First trip to Europe? Focus on these 5 great cities rather than cheap ones

Rijksmuseum LawnNot long ago, I scrolled down the homepage of this website – – and noticed that almost every article had the word “cheapest” in the title. This is what happens when you run a site dedicated to researching and reporting travel prices, and certainly there is a demand for these lists and prices.

Also recently, a friend of mine who's never visited Europe asked me which cities I recommend for a first trip. Only then did it occur to me that I actually think it's important to start with the truly great cities first, even though they tend to be among the most expensive. In other words, articles like the cheapest cities in Europe might encourage people to go to some places for what could be the wrong reasons.

Start with Europe's greatest cities, and work out a budget from there

For those of us who are traveling constantly it's easy to forget that most people are lucky to visit Europe (assuming you live elsewhere) even once in their lives. Sure, many people are inspired by a first trip and will continue to gp back and explore, but others don't have the time or the means, and their first trip might be their only trip.

For that reason, and also to help the chances for that inspiration leading to later trips, I recommend first-time visitors begin in the most famous cities, in spite of high costs and crowds.

Suggestions for your first trip to Europe

Due to the unexpected popularity of this article and the many questions in comments about first-time itineraries, I've created a new and detailed article with all of my best suggestions.

>>>9 Best itinerary ideas for your first trip to Europe

Europe's 5 Great Cities for visitors

1 – London

London Thames ViewThe only town that can compete with New York City for the title of Capital of the World, London is where everything comes together. And obviously as an English-speaking city (mostly), it's among the easiest to begin adapting to the culture and style of Europe.

The main downside to London is that, until you know where things are, it feels like the most expensive place on earth. There are ways to keep London cheap if you really have to, but at first it's probably not a bad idea to splurge and just go with the flow. Fortunately, all of the famous museums are free to enter, and there are several new free walking tours to choose from, so it's getting a bit easier to keep expenses reasonable.

  • Backpacker Index: US$69.35 per day

2 – Paris

Paris Seine ViewDefinitely more intimidating than London, and also far more beautiful, Paris is a city that so many people gush over that you might assume there's no way it could live up to the praise. Then you go to Paris for yourself and you start gushing yourself. Walk for thirty minutes from anywhere near the city center and you'll keep seeing buildings and bridges and public art that will make you want to start checking apartment prices.

Every city has problems, even Paris, but it's hard to imagine anyone being sorry they visited. While Paris is an expensive city, it's actually a bit easier to keep costs down, mainly because the extensive Metro system means that you can still have a great and convenient time if you stay in a cheaper hotel outside of the main tourist center.

  • Backpacker Index: US$79.04 per day

3 – Rome

Rome ViewUnlike London and Paris, the city of Rome does actually seem to have a group who'll tell you to avoid it. Rome is frustrating in many ways, with crazy traffic and a sense of disorganization that is hard to adapt to, but there's also no denying that it's one of the world's greatest and most important cities.

It's easy to tell people to avoid a city once you've been there yourself, but no one gives points to those who would brag about never visiting a city because they heard it was too crazy. With Ancient Rome, the Coliseum, and the Vatican just for starters, Italy's capital is worth the hassle to see it at least once, and many people love it so much that they keep returning. Hotels in Rome are weirdly expensive, but other costs are reasonable, and it's totally worth it at least once in your life.

  • Backpacker Index: US$80.38 per day

4 – Venice

Venice ViewSome cities are really beautiful from certain vantage points or certain angles, but Venice is beautiful from all of them. As a touristy city for several hundred years now, the biggest problem with Venice is the crowds it attracts. Even in winter, the main pedestrian routes can be so packed that it frustrates nearly everyone. And in summer, they are worse, of course.

Even though hotels in Venice tend to be quite expensive, the best way to visit is to spend at least one or two nights on the main island. You'll find that early mornings and evenings are far less crowded, as most groups head to the mainland to sleep. Venice is also small enough that 36 hours is plenty of time to see the best bits, so it's worth a one-night splurge for a good location.

  • Backpacker Index: US$90.26 per day

5 – Amsterdam

Amsterdam ViewSome people might not put Amsterdam on this short list of great European cities, but plenty of people agree with me that it's another of the world's most beautiful and interesting places. Most of the city center is perfectly preserved from its beginnings in the 17th Century, and it's been quite wealthy ever since.

Many cities around the world boast that they have more canals than Amsterdam, but except for Venice, none are nearly as stunning. Add in the way bicycles dominate the landscape, the weirdness of the Red Light District, and its pleasant overall nature, and Amsterdam is worth a visit in spite of its relative high prices for most things.

  • Backpacker Index: US$86.67 per day

Include the above cities as part of bigger trips

The 5 cities mentioned above are the ones that I think are the best and most dramatic introduction to Europe, and the most likely to inspire more trips, but I wouldn't recommend just trying to see these 5 and then heading home. Depending on budget, season, and trip duration, you could add or subtract many other worthwhile cities to make the perfect itinerary.

If you've traveled all over Europe yourself, do you agree or disagree with the cities selected above? I can't think of another that deserves to be in this top tier, but I'd imagine that other people might have other ideas.

275 Responses to “First trip to Europe? Focus on these 5 great cities rather than cheap ones”

Astoria Greek says:

Where would you rate Athens?

    Roger Wade says:


    Very interesting question, and I would personally rank Athens #6 in this group. Historically it couldn’t be more important and its center has become very tourist-friendly as well. I put it above Madrid or Berlin or Prague as an essential European city, but I cut this list off at 5. Thank you. -Roger

George says:

Venice has never wowed me. It seems nice enough, but lacks interest for a prolonged stay. It’s also smelly in summer and flooded in winter, and over-touristed in all seasons.

I would rate Barcelona in the top five. Beautiful architecture, great restaurants, and friendly residents. And how can you forget about Istanbul?

    Roger Wade says:

    George, that’s interesting about Venice for you, and I agree that its weakness is that it’s too crowded all year. I think people who stay overnight on the main island can get a wonderful experience if they try. As for Barcelona and Istanbul, they’d certainly both be in my next five, but for me they don’t compare with the others for impact on a first-time visitor. It’s all opinion though, and thank you for yours. -Roger

Julia says:

Having traveled extensively around Europe (and living in Vienna), I would definitely add Berlin, Barcelona and of course Vienna to the list! Great cities regarding culture, food and nightlife and also budget friendly if you look around a little. I personally would leave out Rome because it is very stressful and go to Florence instead for the museums and Tuscany in general, but that’s just me 🙂

    Roger Wade says:

    Julia, thank you for your thoughts, and you make good points. Personally, I prefer Berlin to all of them on my list, but this post was meant to be about the “great” cities that will change your life after experiencing them. The sights and history of Rome are far more interesting than those of Florence, although I agree about the stress factor of Rome. -Roger

Susan says:

I have never been, so this list helps. They are mostly what I was leaning towards anyway with the exception of Amsterdam. My first choice is Paris, then Venice, Florence, maybe Rome, but the stressful factor has me rethinking Rome, but maybe one day in Rome would be eventful and an experience and well worth it. Something has me running from London and not sure why. The english speaking comment about London makes sense though. Maybe it should be the first stop! I wonder where you would put the French Riviera on the list? Nice and Saint Tropez?

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m glad you found this helpful. If you are going to Italy it would be a shame to skip Rome. A one-day visit would be far better than skipping it, but I’d really urge you to plan at least 2 days in Rome, if not 3. It’s true that it’s a bit stressful, but I really don’t think it would be a problem if you are aware of it and plan accordingly. Mostly it’s just that street traffic is somewhat chaotic, and pedestrians become unpredictable as a result. Also, the main attractions such as the Vatican Museum and Coliseum tend to have long queues, so once you reach them through the traffic, it’s still tough to relax. But the thing is, you can’t see the Vatican Museum and Coliseum anywhere else in the world, and they are so worthwhile that Rome makes my list, and everybody else’s list.

    But if you mentally prepare yourself for the crowds, and book a hotel that puts the main tourist sights within fairly easy reach, you’ll love the place.

    I’ll also encourage you to include London if you can. I understand why it might seem relatively bland compared to the others, partly due to the language and so much shared culture with the US and elsewhere, but it really does live up to the hype. Though it might feel like “Foreign Travel 101” as an easy introductory stop, once you are there it feels like a “capital of the world” similar to how New York City does.

    As for the French Riviera, it’s quite a lovely place and well worth a stop if you have time. Most people agree that St. Tropez is a bit overrated on its own, as it’s quite expensive, fairly crowded, and without much to see. The best stop for most people is Nice, which is larger, quite budget friendly, and also loaded with good museums and interesting cultural sights as well as the beach itself. Nice has a rocky beach, but you can take the train to Cannes and its sandy beach for a day trip, which is only about 30 minutes away. And Monaco is even closer by train in the other direction, and it’s so small that you can see all the main things in only a few hours. Of the three cities mentioned, Monaco is actually the most visually stunning for a quick stop, but Nice is the best place to stay.

    I’m sure you’ll have an incredible time no matter which destinations you choose. -Roger

luca says:

I completely agree with your list, if you did a top ten I would add Barcelona, Prague, Athens, Berlin and Vienna

    Roger Wade says:


    Thanks, and I couldn’t disagree with any of your next five. I’d be tempted to include Istanbul in order to make it even a bit more diverse, but then it would be hard to figure out which one of those to remove. I appreciate the comment. -Roger

Aditi says:

Hi Roger,

I am planning to visit Europe for the first time in May 2017 with my husband for a 15 days trip. I want to include the top 5 cities mentioned above. Can you please plan an itinerary for me which would include the top 5 cities as well as some others worth visiting, with the duration mentioned, for each city. Also, if you feel, I should cut down on any of them due to paucity of time, or as a first timer I should plan my trip in a different way covering some other cities, your suggestions are most welcome. I don’t want to rush anywhere. Totally depending on your views, as I am totally confused what to visit.

Many many thanks in advance.

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m happy that you are so open minded when planning this trip. Many people start with a very tight schedule and then struggle to change plans when they learn that they are trying to move too quickly. My general advice is to stay in each city for 3 nights, except for the largest and most sight-filled cities like London or Paris, if you have time. There are also a few cities that are small enough to cover in 1 or 2 days, as long as you don’t spend too much time in transit in and out.

    First off, it’s a shame that these 5 cities aren’t quite so easy to string together on a 2-week trip, although it could be done like this:

    Fly into London for 3 nights
    Take a train to Amsterdam for 3 nights
    Take a train to Paris for 4 nights
    Fly to Venice for 2 nights
    Take a train to Rome for 3 nights
    Then fly home from Rome, or fly back to London for a flight home that same day

    That itinerary is obviously filled with highlights, but I think I might instead suggest:

    Fly into London for 3 or 4 nights
    Take a train to Paris for 3 nights
    Fly to Venice for 1 or 2 nights
    Train to Florence for 2 or 3 nights
    Train to Rome for 3 nights

    The second version is also filled with highlights, and the overall travel time is several hours shorter on a few of the journeys. By skipping Amsterdam on this trip, and doing Florence in between Venice and Rome, you get all the best sights in Italy as well as enough time in London and Paris, with short travel times.

    See what you think about that, and I’ll be here to help more in the future when you have more questions. -Roger

      Johnathan says:

      Hi Roger,

      Just wanted to mention that if one did want to visit London, Paris and Amsterdam, it would be much faster to go from London to Paris to Amsterdam. Not sure if you intended to write your first itinerary in that order.

      If you were to focus on those 3 and save Italy for another trip, would you recommend adding Brussels or another city as a stop between Paris and Amsterdam? Do you have a better recommendation?


        Roger Wade says:


        This list is mostly in the order that I think the cities are critical for first-time Europe visitors, rather than an actual itinerary to follow. I put Amsterdam at #5 because I think the other 4 are even more impressive and important. I lived in Amsterdam for a while, and I’m based in London at the moment, even though I’m an American, by the way.

        So yes, you are right that the Eurostar from London to Paris is very efficient, and then the high-speed Thalys train from Paris to Amsterdam, changing in Brussels. I sort of have mixed opinions on Brussels. My uncle lives there and I’ve visited several times, but I find most of the city to be a bit generic, expensive, and mostly focused on business and government employee travelers. On the other hand, the main city square (called the Grand Place) is quite amazing, and the historic area surrounding it is definitely worth seeing.

        As a result, my common recommendation is for people to stop in Brussels and leave their bags in the train station, and then go out and explore for a few hours and have lunch or dinner. After that, get on the train to Bruges, which is 1 hour 7 minutes away on a direct train. Bruges is an almost perfectly preserved medieval town that will remind you of a smaller and more mellow version of Amsterdam. It’s really nice, and it’s cheaper than Brussels. You can see most everything there in about two days. There are a few other Belgian towns to consider such as Antwerp or Ghent, but Bruges has more hotels and more sights by far.

        The only downside of visiting Bruges before Amsterdam is that the architecture is pretty similar since they were built up in the same era. In other words, Amsterdam would seem a bit more spectacular coming straight from Paris rather than from Bruges, but I’d still recommend Bruges if you have two days or so. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Ina says:

Hi Roger, I’m planning on a 2-3+ week trip to Europe for the first time next year. First stop would be Vienna then hopefuly Italy, France, Spain and Greece. London is out of the picture, unfortunately, cause I would need another visa for that. I don’t know how to go about my trip. I just want it to be a relaxed one and not rushing from city to city. It is also important for me to experience the culture through their cuisines. Can you suggest an itinerary for me? Any suggestions about the places I want to visit? Thank you!

    Roger Wade says:


    Particularly if you want to do a “relaxed” journey, you’ll want to plan on at least 3 nights in each city you visit. That gives you two full sightseeing days in each place because the travel day will take most of your daylight hours in almost all cases. And on a relaxed trip, I’d allow 4 days in Paris, partly because you mention food and it has so much exceptional food that 7 or 8 meals isn’t nearly enough.

    And rather than planning on countries you want to visit, it’s much easier and more helpful to think about the cities. In Austria you’ll start in Vienna and if you want to do another stop it should be Salzburg. In France you won’t have enough time to see more than Paris in 3 or 4 days, but fortunately it’s so wonderful that it will be enough. If you want to go to Spain, the fastest trip I’d recommend would be 3 nights in Barcelona and 3 nights in Madrid. Each is a large city loaded with great attractions, and they are very different from one another.

    The fastest Italy trip that I recommend is 1 night in Venice, 2 nights in Florence, and 3 nights in Rome. That is a lot of rushing, so 7 or 8 days is much better if you have the time. And as for Greece, the only must-see place is Athens, but it’s quite out of the way and I don’t think you’ll have time on this trip. Aside from Athens many people also go to one or more of the islands, but they are more about relaxation and partying than about culture and food. So I’d save Greece for a future trip.

    With all of that in mind, you have to decide which cities you really want to visit, and will have time to visit. Once you have that list I’ll be happy to help you sort out the itinerary. And it’s also best if you can plan cities that are within 5 or so hours of each other by train. If they are farther apart you’ll probably want to fly, and that gets a little complicated and less pleasant than doing it all on the train.

    So think about it, and I’m happy to help you once you have your priority list and total time frame decided upon. -Roger

Rajatha says:

Hi Roger,

My friends and I are planning a 2 week trip and we were hoping to cover France, Italy and Netherlands. I’m not entire sure of how to get from one place to the other. I’ve read quiet a bit about Eurail and from what I understand its pretty expensive. Are there any other options on how to commute? And it would be great if I’d get some advice as to where to begin our trip and where to end it. An itinerary would help.

Thanks a tonne.

    Roger Wade says:


    The best way to get between those places is by train. Europe has an extensive rail network, and fares are surprisingly cheap if you buy your tickets at least a month or two in advance. It’s easy to confuse the European rail network with “Eurail Passes”, which are prepaid ride passes that are good for people who want to make plans as they go, but quite expensive compared to individual tickets bought well in advance.

    It’s probably easiest to fly into Amsterdam and spend a few days there. Then take the high-speed train to Paris (3 hours) for a few days. After that take a train to Milan or Venice in Italy. From Paris to Italy it might be cheaper to fly, so compare both options. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Koyel says:

Hi Roger,

Am planning to visit Europe in January 2017. This would be my first time in this beautiful continent. I have 18 days in hand. But my Schengen Visa does not cover UK. So i have roughly chalked out an itinerary which looks like this-
Rome-Venice-Florence-Zermatt (via Milan)-Interlaken-Luzern-Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam. I would also like to include Vienna if possible. Do u think its Doable? Am open to make changes in the tour plan. Kindly suggest me an itinerary that wont be too hectic but also would let me see as much as possible. Really exited since this would be my first time in Europe.

Thanks a lot. Koyel.

    Roger Wade says:


    I’ll be happy to try to help. The fastest trip through Italy that I recommend is 3 nights in Rome, 2 nights in Florence, and 1 night in Venice. Aside from that, I usually recommend 3 nights in almost any city in Europe with only a few other exceptions. So right there you’ve got 6 days spoken for.

    You might check my comments on where to go in Switzerland. I don’t think I’d recommend including Zermatt on a trip like this. Instead, I’d go for 2 or 3 nights in Interlaken and 2 nights in Lucerne. At that point you are at 10 or 11 days.

    You’ll want at least 3 nights in Paris, and 4 would be better. I just returned to London again from Paris, and Paris is such an amazing city that you don’t want to rush through it. You could spend 1 night in Brussels in order to see historic center, but you could even do that in a few hours on your way to Amsterdam. If you spend 3 nights in Amsterdam, you’ve got a pretty much perfect 18 days, and you’ll be fairly worn out at the end of it. Vienna is out of the way and I’d save it for another trip. This itinerary would work pretty well, and that is only if you are willing to move quickly through Italy like that. It might be even better if you spend 8 days or so in Italy, and perhaps save Amsterdam for a future trip. I hope this helps and feel free to ask other questions if you have them. -Roger

      Koyel says:


      Thanks a ton for your help. Now am more confident about making this trip. Just went through your write-up about the places to visit and stay in Switzerland. Following your advice would directly go to Interlaken and Lucerne from Italy and stay in each city for two days. Would save Zermatt for a future trip. I would like to ask you, do you think in this trip it would be more convenient to include Germany’s famed black forest for a couple of days (maybe Gengenbach?) instead of heading to Brussels and Amsterdam? That way can i save up on my travel time and get to see more? As suggested by you i would also like to add a day or two to Italy. What do u suggest?

        Roger Wade says:


        The Black Forest is one of those odd attractions that is famous but not very interesting. There’s really nothing special about it, aside from a few small towns that sell many cuckoo clocks to tourists. Have a look at my article on where to go in Germany and maybe you’ll get another idea.

        On the other hand, Amsterdam is an amazing and beautiful city, so if you have time to get there I’m sure you’ll be impressed. Hotels there are expensive and the trains to get there aren’t cheap either, so I won’t blame you if you saved it for a future trip. But if you do get there you’ll love it. Brussels has a beautiful historic center around the main square called the Grand Place, but aside from that it’s mostly an expensive city for business travelers and bureaucrats.

        If you can stay another day or two in Italy, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it a lot. It would take at least 10 days in Italy before you’d start to be ready for another country. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Jennifer says:

Hi, I will be traveling to Europe for the first time with my best friend in 2017. Since, it’s not a trip we will likely be able to do again for a long time. We are trying to make the best of it. Unfortunately we can only go for 1 week. She would like to go to Italy or Paris, but I want to know what you believe is best to do for a week. We will be leaving from NYC and planning on going in October. We haven’t finalized the dates yet.

Thanks for any and all advise.

    Roger Wade says:


    If you’ve only got a week and you want the best possible Europe experience, I recommend two possible choices. One would be to fly to London or Paris and spend 3 or 4 days there and then the remaining days in the other, after taking the Eurostar train between the two. Both are spectacular cities that are very different from each other, with more than enough top sights to keep you busy for 3 or 4 days.

    The other choice would be to spend the week in Italy. You could fly into Rome and spend 3 days there, then take a train to Florence for 2 or 3 days, and then another train to Venice for 1 or 2 days. Those are Italy’s Big Three, and again, they are all fantastic and all different from each other. It’s much more complicated to combine Paris and one or two cities in Italy in one 7-day trip. Whichever you choose this time, you can keep the other on your list for your next trip. Let me know if you have any questions about this and I’ll be happy to help. -Roger

stephen says:

hi rodger, id like to see your itinerary for things to do and see in each of these cities. ones that are touristy must sees and also the ones that are must dos that maybe aren’t so touristy.

Also id like to know your thoughts on a separate Ireland, Scotland type trip.

    Roger Wade says:


    Without knowing your tastes I couldn’t type out an itinerary, and I generally don’t do that anyway because it’s so personal. I’d check the page for each city, as well as and even TripAdvisor for ideas, and then focus on the ones that appeal to you.

    For example, in Paris, you’ll obviously want to photograph the Eiffel Tower, but I’m not much of a fan of the experience of going up in the thing. Many people would disagree with me though. And in Amsterdam, the Van Gogh Museum is very popular, yet I’m not really a fan of his popular works, so I find it disappointing. The Reichsmuseum is fantastic though. If you have any specific questions I’ll be happy to answer or give my opinion.

    As for Scotland and Ireland, they are quite different from one another. In Scotland you’ll want to go to Edinburgh, which is really an excellent city for tourists for 2 or 3 days. After that the best place to go is Inverness, which is a lovely town and also the gateway to the Scottish Highlands. You can take many different tours from Inverness, including ones to the Isle of Skye. It’s also just a bit north of Loch Ness, and that might be one of the world’s dumbest tourist destinations. It’s a very deep lake, though not very photogenic. And if you don’t believe in the Monster stories, it’s just a hustle and waste of time.

    In Ireland it’s worth spending one or maybe two days in Dublin, but Dublin is not nearly as interesting as most people expect, and the rest of Ireland is lovely and charming. So the advice there is to spend only a day or two in Dublin and then head to Galway and the sights around there, or Kilarney or Cork, or any of the other smaller towns. Renting a car for a tour of Ireland’s scenic areas and small towns is ideal, although you can see a lot on train or bus trips as well. Again, let me know if you have any questions. -Roger

Cliff says:

Hi Roger, I’m thinking about traveling to Europe next year with my wife. I came across a “Best of Europe in 21 days” tour on a very familiar Europe traveler’s website. You know guy I’m talking about, right (His name rhymes with Stick Reeves? Anyway, his tour includes: Amsterdam, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, and France. It also includes 4 of the 5 cities you listed (no London). I was wondering if you think if that particular tour is a good value at $5,000 per person + airfare? I don’t mind paying top dollar for something valuable but I don’t want to get ripped off. I think you’re much better equipped to make a call than I am. Thanks for the article, and thanks in advance if you have time to respond! 🙂

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m a big fan of Rick Steves myself, although I’ve never done any of his tours. I’ve never heard anyone say that his tours are extremely overpriced or a ripoff of some kind, and I’ve always assumed that the quality is fairly high.

    That said, US$5,000 per person does seem high for 21 days on the ground. That is obviously just under US$500 per day for two people sharing a room, although it also includes breakfasts, probably many other meals, attractions, tour guiding, and trains between cities. Really it boils down to how keen are you to be guided in this way. Many people love it and prefer it, and if it sounds like something you’d enjoy then I’d think this Rick Steves tour would be a great choice.

    However, if you planned all of this independently you could do it for far less with unlimited freedom. You can get perfectly acceptable and well-located hotel rooms in all of those places for around US$200 per night for two people including breakfast. You might spend more in Switzerland and Venice, and a bit less in other places. Traveling through these cities is very easy, even if English is your only language, so you can have great experiences without worrying about a language barrier.

    Personally, I absolutely love planning these trips and improvising a bit while I’m there. But for some people it feels like a huge chore. I’m very confident that you’ll love the trip whether you go with a tour or plan it yourself, and you’d even be able to afford some splurges by doing it yourself because you don’t have to pay a tour guide or the company they work for. And speaking of Rick Steves, I’m a huge fan of his books and have used them on my first trip to pretty much all of these places, so I highly recommend buying his books or ebooks for the planning process. As he says, the US$20 you spend on a good guide book can save you US$1,000 when you are there, including all the time savings. You can get electronic versions of his books on sale for around US$10 each at times, and that would be money very well spent.

    If you do end up planning your own trip, I’m happy to help if you have any questions. -Roger

Anit says:

Hi..planning our first trip to Europe in mid june 2017 for 15 days and need some help with planning. Our itinerary must include Switzerland as that has been on my fathers bucket list. We will be traveling from Singapore..a family of 6. What cities would you recommend we include and in what order so that I can check multi city flight options accordingly ? I have read that London requires a separate visa and if that’s true then we might skip London and focus on other cities. thanks in advance!

    Roger Wade says:


    If you want to save the UK for a future trip, you can still have an excellent visit to Europe. And if you definitely need to include Switzerland, I will provide my best recommendation below.

    I’d fly into Paris and spend 3 nights there. Then take a train to Interlaken in Switzerland for 2 or 3 days. Then take a train to Lucerne for 1 or 2 days. In other words, I recommend 4 nights in Switzerland, and 2 or 3 of those nights in Interlaken. See my article about where to go in Switzerland for the specific details on how to plan that.

    After Switzerland you have 8 days left, so take a train from Lucerne to Venice. That journey will take 6 hours and 48 minutes, and it’s amazingly scenic.

    Spend 1 night in Venice, as you can see the main sights in less than 24 hours, and Venice is so crowded that spending more than that can start to give people a headache. Then take a short train ride down to Florence for 3 nights, and then finally another train to Rome for the final 3 nights.

    That trip is filled with many of Europe’s best highlights and allows enough time in each place. Buy those train tickets about 3 months ahead of time and you’ll find that the fares will be surprisingly low. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      Amit says:

      Thanks Roger…appreciate the response! I’m sure I’ll have more questions as I wrap my head around the logistics and I thank you in advance for indulging me. Some quick questions

      1. Would you say that the difference in scenery in Lucerne outweighs the logistics of traveling from interlaken to Lucerne?
      2. If we do include Lucerne and considering that we are going to be covering few legs of train travel.. it good idea to buy rail pass or individual tickets? Would you recommend a website for train tickets or for buying attraction tickets?
      3. Depending on inbound flight tickets, if I find tickets to Zurich cheaper as opposed to Paris.. would it be worth starting from these as opposed to Paris and in that case logistically would you do Paris immediately after Interlaken/Lucerne?

      I will review your article on Switzerland in detail…would you also have good recommendations for reasonably priced hotel/apartment for the 6 of us in Paris/Florence/Venice/Rome?

      Ps. Btw just curious that despite Florence not being in your list of top 5, I notice you’re suggesting more time there as opposed to Venice? Just want to make sure I’m reading it correctly.

      Thanks a ton!

      Amit (pardon typo in previous message)

        Roger Wade says:


        It’s my pleasure to help.

        1. If you have 2 or 3 days in Switzerland, I’d just focus on the Interlaken area. If you can spare 4 days I’d add 1 or 2 days in Lucerne. They are very different from each other. Interlaken is where you get the best Alpine views and experiences, and Lucerne has a stunning location on a beautiful lake with plenty of other sights and attractions nearby. It just depends on how much of your trip you want to do in Switzerland.

        2. Rail passes tend to be best for trips longer than two weeks where you also want to make plans as you go to some degree. For a trip like yours you’ll be best off planning your whole itinerary in advance. And if you buy train tickets 2 or 3 months in advance, they’ll be cheaper than any rail pass as well. The tickets for domestic Swiss train rides are always the same price, but the others are cheaper the earlier you buy. The best site for most of these will be, which is the official Swiss rail site. For the tickets in Italy you should use, which is the official Italy rail site. For the ticket from Switzerland to Italy you should be quoted the same price on both, but comparing them is still probably wise just in case.

        I’d start in Paris and then go through Switzerland on your way to Italy if you can. If you started in Switzerland and then went to Paris, the train ride to Italy is nearly a full day. You could fly from Paris to Venice, however, so that’s something to consider. You’d miss the amazing Alpine scenery of the train from Lucerne (or Interlaken) to Venice though.

        Italy’s “Big 3” cities are Rome, Florence, and Venice. Rome is a bit hectic but it’s packed with great sights. Venice is small and very crowded, so it’s best to spend only 1 or 2 nights there. Florence is the heart of Tuscany and in between the other two. It’s less crowded and hectic than the other two, and it’s also packed with top sights. So while Florence might not make my Top 5 in Europe list on its own, it’s a wonderful stop on any tour of Italy, and it’s conveniently right between Rome and Venice.

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

Amit says:

Thanks a ton Roger! If you have some hotel/apartment options in these locations please do let me know.

Many thanks again for your friendly suggestions!


Paige says:

It looks we are going to Europe for 3 months. It will be my husband, 2 year son and i. I’m wondering if we should start in the UK and head east, and fly home from budapest or should we start in budapest and end in the UK/Ireland? Would it be more than enough time to see greece, budapest, italy, france, London? I would love to add spain and amsterdam, but with a 2 year old i keep trying to keep us from moving every 3-5 days. Any input would be greatly appreciated


    Roger Wade says:


    Part of my answer about which direction to go in would depend on what time of year you are planning this for. Budapest has fairly harsh winters and it can get quite hot and somewhat uncomfortable in summer. London and most of the rest of the UK has fairly mild winters, and mild summers as well. So with that in mind, you might want to go in a direction that maximizes your good weather.

    The other side of that, however, is that London can get really expensive for hotels in summer (because it’s the only decent season), while Budapest is much cheaper all year. Also, Greece typically means a stop in Athens, which is a pretty good year-round city, and a stop on one or more of the Greek Islands. Those islands mostly operate between early May and late October. If you visited outside of those months you’d be almost alone and disappointed.

    Another factor that I consider, if weather isn’t an issue either way, is that I personally prefer to stay in the expensive places first and end in the cheaper places. It’s a strange phenomenon that if you get used to US$5 dinners early in the trip and near the end you are paying US$15 for pretty much the same thing, it can be frustrating. On the other hand, it can be really fun to do it in reverse. So if weather isn’t a big issue, I’d start in the UK and head east from there.

    If you have 3 months in Europe you’ll have more than enough time for everything on your list. If your 2-year-old allows you to change cities every 4 days on average, which is reasonable, then you can visit about 22 cities. You could visit 2 or 3 cities in the UK and even a week in Ireland (don’t stay long in Dublin though), and you could visit 3 or 4 cities in Italy, and 2 or 3 in Spain, and 2 or 3 in France, and Amsterdam, and 2 places in Greece, and still have time for Budapest.

    I’m happy to help you further on this, so let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Valerie says:

Hi Roger!
I will be traveling to Europe for the first time with husband our toddler and 65 yr old mom. We are flying into London dec 28 and out from Paris Jan 11. (Booked this way due to lower flight rates) would love to visit Rome & Barcelona as well ( and IF there’s extra time possibly visit Venice or Madrid ). Would you be able to to suggest an itinerary please. We would stay on London for NYE. Mom suggests we pay for tour/ hotel package but they are running about $3000+ per person which think I can find hotels and possibly do our own for much less. Any suggestions? Thanks so much!!!!

    Roger Wade says:


    I’ll be happy to help. In the 14 days you have you should hit 4 cities, and perhaps a short visit to a 5th one. Three days per city is ideal for most European cities, as it’s long enough to see the main sights and short enough that you can squeeze quite a bit in to a trip. There are two easy and logical choices for this trip, but combining them together is a bit tricky.

    Your first logical choice would be London for 3 or 4 days and then fly to Madrid, then three days later take the train to Barcelona, and three days later take the high-speed train or fly to Paris for your final four days.

    The second logical choice would be to start in London for 3 or 4 days and then fly to Rome for 3 days and then take a train to Florence (you’ll love it) for 2 or 3 days and then a train to Venice for 1 day, and then a flight to Paris for your final 3 or 4 days.

    In other words, it’s very easy to combine Spain OR Italy with London and Paris, and both of them are wonderful. Being honest, Italy is a more popular choice for most first-time visitors and I do think it provides more bang for your buck, and much better food as well. But Spain is also wonderful and those two big cities are quite different from each other, and quite lovely. The weather in Spain might also be a bit nicer than in Italy, though not by much. In Spain you’ll encounter some situations where the person you are speaking to speaks little or no English, so if you know Spanish it can help. That is less likely in Italy, since its tourism industry is powered by English-speaking tourists, so English-only is a bit easier there.

    If you did want to do Rome and Barcelona on the same trip you could do it. You’d be flying between all of your cities, except for perhaps Barcelona to Paris by train if you like. The European train system is wonderful and a lot of fun. That ride in Spain is only 3 hours, and in Italy those rides are each around 2 hours, so you still have a lot of sightseeing time left.

    You definitely don’t need a package to do a trip like this and you’ll save a lot of money planning it on your own. I’m happy to help you sort out more of the details once you lock down your itinerary. The train journeys and flights are cheapest if you book as far in advance as possible, so I’d try to get those booked soon. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

      Valerie says:

      Hi Roger!
      Thank you so much for your quick and helpful reply!
      My husband and mom really want to go to Barcelona and I want to go to Rome so I think we are going to try the last option. Ideally I would love to do that Italy/Florence/venice easier combo but since we might not be able to visit Europe anytime soon after I want everyone to be happy. You mentioned a train from Barcelona to Paris. What is the train called and will that be better than flying? Would it be wishful thinking to add Venice for one day before or after Rome? I can spend two days in Rome. Fly or train? After searching hotel rates obviously the closer to London city center the more expensive. We could technically get two rooms for the price of one if we stayed further. Do you think that during NYE it’s better for us to to stay closer to Big Ben etc. We don’t have tickets yet to the fireworks but would like to see them even if it’s from afar. Not sure if there’s a lot of traffic or hassle to stay further due to holiday. (We live in LA traffic is a nightmare and metro gets packed ) people have mentioned getting a train pass but since we are going to different cities (flying) which pass would it be worth it? yes I agree I could save money by planning separate. I was thinking of doing a hop on hop bus for a day where we go. Sorry for so many questions! Im hoping to book everything sooner vs later for deals! thanks so much for your help!

Haley says:

Hi…looking to travel to Europe in November/December of 2017. Where in Europe would you recommend during that time period? I don’t mind being a little cold, but I would prefer to avoid the rainiest cities.


    Roger Wade says:


    Fortunately, there are few places in Europe where winter rain is a constant problem, perhaps aside from the notorious drizzle in much of the UK. Still, the inland countries in Europe can be very chilly that time of year, and you’d probably be better of saving them for another trip.

    Paris is so wonderful and has so many indoor attractions that I recommend it any time of year. Aside from that I think you’d be best of focusing on Italy, namely Rome, Florence, and Venice. And if you have more time you could spend some time in Sorrento to visit Naples, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast.

    Warmer still is Spain. Madrid and Barcelona are both excellent cities that are different from one another. Valencia is another cool place to visit while you are there. Seville, Granada, and Toledo are the other main highlights. If you have even more time you could stop in the Malaga area along the Costa del Sol. It won’t be beach weather, but it will be warmer than elsewhere. And if you have time you could also visit Lisbon, which is a real gem with nice weather that time of year.

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

      Haley says:


      Thank you for the suggestions! It’s good to know that it’s not too wet this time of year. Paris is definitely a must, it’s been my go-to dream trip since I was a kid. Good to know you recommend it! Thanks for all the help, will definitely keep your page in mind as I continue the planning.


Jill says:


Our family of four (two teenagers) are looking to travel Europe July 2017 for 14 days to celebrate our 20th annivesary. Would like to explore England, France and possibly Italy. We love food, wine and new experiences. Any suggestions of possible itineraries or can’t miss experiences? I love to plan and intend to make the arrangements myself. Would also love lodging advice. We tend to stick five star hotels in the states, but would rather spend the money on food, wine and experiences on this trip. We so appreciate your guidance. Thanks, Jill

    Roger Wade says:


    This isn’t exactly my specialty, but I’ll try to help. For food and wine experiences you’ll want to focus on France and also Italy. I’d still plan on 3 or 4 days in London, and they do have excellent restaurants there to go along with the famous attractions. But then I’d take the Eurostar train to Paris for at least 3 or 4 nights. In Paris and most of France, it’s hard to get anything less than a fantastic meal. And really good wine starts at reasonable prices as well.

    After Paris you could head to Burgundy or Bordeaux or one of the other wine regions in France if you want smaller towns and countryside. Or you could head to Nice, on the Mediterranean coast, for excellent dining and the ability to visit Cannes and Monaco in 30 minutes by train as day trips.

    If you want to also visit Italy you’ll get excellent food and experiences, but the wine industry and winery visits aren’t quite as high-end as France. The quickest Italy visit that I recommend is one night in Venice, two nights in Florence, and 3 nights in Rome. If you have more time you could add another night in Florence and maybe one more night in Venice. Let me know if you have any other questions, and I’m sure there are many other good resources for ideas for what you have in mind. -Roger

Cassie says:

Hi Rodger,
Love that most of these suggestions are on our list!
My spouse and I are planning a Europe trip in Sept 2017 for 3 weeks. We came up with a rough itinerary including (in order):
Does this seem reasonable in that amount of time with still feeling somewhat relaxed? Can you suggest a city for both Ireland and Greece (rather than Rome, we would prefer something more sea side) & possible itinerary with time frames for each city?
Thank you

    Roger Wade says:


    Your itinerary looks quite good and 3 weeks should be enough time for most or all of it. I’ll go over it one at a time.

    For Ireland it’s probably worth a day or so in Dublin, but then you can take a train or rental car to one of the smaller and more charming towns. Galway on the west coast is very nice and easy to reach with the Cliffs of Moher nearby. Kilarney a bit to the south is another classic destination for a quicker trip to Ireland. You probably want to spend at least 4 or 5 days in Ireland if you can, and skipping Dublin altogether isn’t a terrible idea.

    London is best done in 3 or hopefully 4 days, but that should be enough. From there you can fly or take a train to Amsterdam, and stay there for 3 nights.

    I’m not a huge fan of Brussels because the historic center is small (although very impressive) and most of the rest of it is built for business and government workers. I prefer Bruges, which is an hour away by train. You could spend an afternoon in Brussels and then take the train to Bruges for 2 or 3 nights.

    Paris is similar to London in that 3 days is needed and 4 days is better.

    You’d want to fly from Paris to Venice because the train would take a long time and cost a lot more. Venice is small enough to enjoy in about 24 hours, and it’s also so crowded that it’s easy to tire of it after 48 hours, so one or two nights is best.

    If you want to visit Greece it’s recommended to stop in Athens for 2 or 3 days, as it’s one of the world’s most historic and interesting cities. After Athens most visitors to Greece will head to one of the islands for some relaxation. If you want to do that then Santorini and Mykonos are popular options that are easy to reach by air or ferry. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      Cassie says:

      Thank you so much! Now this being both our first trips in Europe, do you have any advice on how to get started with planning. Do you recommend booking all accomadtions and flights ahead of time or leaving some wiggle room in case of any change in plans? Appreciate all your tips/advice.

        Roger Wade says:


        You should probably start looking at airfares to Europe about 6 months in advance, and be ready to buy about 4 months before you go, or whenever you see fares that look good with good connection times. That is how you’ll get the lowest fares.

        For hotels in September you could book at the last minute and still be okay, but the best and cheapest places with the best locations tend to get booked first. So if I were you I’d book most or all of my hotels at least a month out. In many cases you’ll be able to do a hotel booking with no cancellation fee, so there isn’t much risk as long as you keep track of everything.

        For trains it’s best to book about 3 months out, as the fares start low and go up as more seats are sold. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Felicity says:

Hi Roger,
So glad to have found this site. My husband and I would like to start planning our first trip to Europe for this summer. We only have 5 nights and of course we want to visit so many places. Our friends are recommending Paris and Barcelona. A few questions:
1) First, is it crazy to visit both cities with only ~6 days?
2) Another thought is to stay in Paris and take day trips. Would you recommend this? If so, what are a few great day trips from Paris?

Thanks so much for your help!

    Roger Wade says:


    I highly recommend staying at least 3 nights when visiting any of these larger European cities. That gives you two full sightseeing days in each place and 1 travel day going between them. If you spend only 2 nights in one city, it’s really only one sightseeing day, and the next day you have to check out of your hotel and you won’t see much. So if you can do 6 nights total I think you’ll have a great trip. If you can only do 5 nights I’d probably stay in Paris and do a day trip or two.

    The most popular day trip from Paris, not including Disneyland Paris, is Versailles, which is only a bit outside the city. Here’s a better list of Paris day trips than I could type here. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Lydia says:

Hi Roger,

My boyfriend and I are planning a trip to Europe in September 2017. It’ll be our first trip together so would really appreciate your advice on where to go / how many night per stops. Thinking of heading there from Melbourne for about 3.5 weeks. It’ll be the first time I’m visiting Europe so I think we should tick all the “essential” cities.
I think I would love to see the seaside of Greece and maybe Spain so wondering if you could advice on an itinerary.

Thank you so much.

    Roger Wade says:


    Sorry about the delay in responding. I was on a fast road trip. My standard advice is to spend 3 nights in each European city you visit. For the largest cities such as London and Paris you might want to spend 4 nights, and some smaller cities can be done in 1 or 2 nights as long as you don’t spend too much transportation time on those days. So with 3.5 weeks you have about 24 days, which means you should shoot for about 8 cities.

    As long as you can afford it I highly recommend these 5 above, so 3 or 4 nights in London and then a train to Paris for 3 or 4 nights. If you fancy Amsterdam you can take a high-speed train from Paris and get there in a bit over 3 hours. From there you can fly to Venice and spend 1 or 2 nights there. Then take a train to Florence for 3 nights and then another to Rome for 3 nights.

    Now you’ve still got about 9 or 10 days left. If you want to go to Spain I highly recommend BOTH Barcelona and Madrid for 3 nights each. They are both very large and very different from each other. You can take a train between them in about 3 hours, but you’ll probably want to fly in and out of Spain because it will be cheaper and much faster. As for Greece, you’ll probably want to hit one of the islands. Santorini is the most popular and it has a good mix of history and relaxing beach areas, but there are many others to choose from. You’ll want to fly in and out of Greece as well, so choosing an island with a busy airport is wise. That should give you some things to think about. I’ll be happy to offer more advice once you start locking in your plans. -Roger

Margie says:

I will be traveling with my five sisters for the first time to Europe for 14 days, arriving to Barcelona on Sept 12, and departing from Rome on September 27 we want to visit Barcelona, Paris, Zurich and Italy,
What is your recommendation for cities to see in Italy and is it best to fly or travel by train?, also how many nights should we spend on each city.
thank you very much


    Roger Wade says:


    In Italy the “Big 3” cities for tourists and especially first-time visitors are Rome (3 nights), Florence (3 nights), and Venice (1 or 2 nights). You’ll want to get between them by train, as it only takes 90 minutes to 2 hours on the high-speed trains there.

    My only other comment is that Zurich isn’t much of a tourist city, and most visitors going to Switzerland are best off focusing on Interlaken and Lucerne. Here is my article on where to go in Switzerland, which discusses my recommendations. -Roger

Stephen says:

Hi Roger,

My wife and I are planning our first trip to Europe sometime this summer for 14 days. We plan on seeing London, Italy, France, and maybe one other country (If not too much of a hassle) like Greece or Amsterdam (Which do you prefer out of these 2 to go with our other places?). I have read some of your responses as to how to go about how to travel from London to Paris and then to the Big Three in Italy which have been extremely helpful. I have a few questions for you which can hopefully help us out:

1) First, do you recommend rental cars in any of these cities or what is the best way to get around in each of these places while we stay there for the 3 or 4 days starting in London at the airport?
2) Also, we were hoping to find a great beach as we would like a day or 2 of relaxing as well while on vacation so we aren’t only seeing museums/buildings etc. every day. Are there great beaches that you recommend in any of these cities that wouldn’t be too far out of the way? I have heard of some great beaches in Italy if weather is good around that time?
3) This may be a stupid question, but do you have any recommendations for the best way to handle the money exchange in each country to make it as convenient as possible for us while not wasting too much money with the exchange rates? We have never left the U.S. so this is brand new to us when traveling.
4) Finally, what location do you recommend staying at at these places? (I don’t necessarily mean an exact hotel name, but more the area in each country) We don’t mind spending a little bit more if it means convenience and near a lot of the sight seeing and activities so we don’t have to spend all our time in a car etc.?

Thank you so much for the help, we appreciate it!!


    Roger Wade says:


    Greece and Amsterdam are obviously extremely different. Amsterdam is only a bit over 3 hours by train from Paris, so it’s far easier to reach and it’s an amazing city that is unlike the others. Athens would require flying from one of your other cities. The top sights there are world-class as well, but you might save that for another trip. Amsterdam is much easier to include on your trip, and even 2 days there is nice.

    1) I definitely would not rent a car for a trip like the one you have in mind. Fuel is expensive and parking is expensive and hard to find. The trains are very pleasant and much faster than driving in most cases, and the fares are pretty good if you buy in advance.

    2) The closest beach to Paris is in Deauville, and it’s a wide, sandy beach. One challenge is that almost no one there speaks English, so if you don’t speak French that might be difficult. There are some nice beaches on the west coast of Italy, including some that are not far from Rome or Florence. But again, they will be filled with Italians and very few people there will speak English. In the major tourist cities you’ll have no problem getting by in English only, but outside those areas it can be tough. Really, if you do go to Athens you could potentially take a ferry or fly to one of the nearby islands. Santorini, Mykanos, and Rhodes are all popular islands with airports and nice beaches. Spain has some wonderful beaches, but really most of continental Europe does not.

    3) It’s not a stupid question at all. In London you’ll use British pounds (at an excellent exchange rate these days) and in all the other stops you’ll use Euros. The best thing to do is to arrive with maybe US$100 in cash as an emergency fund, and take money out of the ATM at the airport once you arrive. There is usually a fee of maybe US$5, but if you take out US$300 or more worth of local currency, that’s a small fee by percentage. Take out what you think you’ll need in London, and if you have any extra you can exchange it for Euros at the airport or train station. You don’t get a great exchange rate doing that, so try to keep that to a minimum. Then when you get to Paris or Italy or Amsterdam or Greece, take Euros out of the ATM. There are ATMs everywhere in these cities and there are always ATMs in airports and train stations once you get outside of baggage claim. In case something goes wrong, you can change the US dollars for local currency anywhere.

    4) In London I recommend staying in the Bayswater neighborhood, as it’s nice and also close to many top sights such as Oxford Street. In Paris I recommend staying in the Rue Cler neighborhood, which is next to the Eiffel Tower. In Amsterdam you should stay either close to the main train station (Centraal Station) or near Museum Square. If it’s a short visit of 2 days or so, the train station would be easiest.

    In Venice I think it’s worth paying a bit more to stay on the main island. In Florence you should stay fairly close to the train station, which is also close to the cathedral. Rome is very large and the area near the train station is a bit dodgy. I mention some of my better choices in an article on recommended hotels in Rome.

    You’ll be walking when sightseeing in those cities, and in some cases using the subway or other public transportation. It’s pretty easy to figure out once you get there, and it’s the fastest way of getting around. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Jay says:


I am glad I stumbled upon your site. And, I wish I could take you with us on the trip we are planning in may/june. Beer on me!!

Can you help us in planning for our trip?

Its a 10 day trip. We are landing and departing from Geneva. we will have 1 kid aged 4 who loves to travel. We are looking to do some kids friendly locations too as just mountains and lakes will probably get boring for her. I would like to visit 2 more countries, probably France and Italy.

DO we need car? I have mixed responses to that question. I saw ER rail pass and that comes to almost $800 for three of us.

What should be focus in Switzerland, France and Italy for the amount of time we have. This is our first time in Europe and we know that we have less time and won’t be able to cover lot of things.

Can you help us to draw out itinerary starting from Switzerland and ending back in Switzerland? I have been researching like crazy but its so vast and am feeling lost.


    Roger Wade says:


    I’ll try to help, but it sounds like you need a couple guidebooks to really help you sort things out.

    For Switzerland you might be helped by my article on places to visit in Switzerland. Basically, you should focus on the Interlaken area if you only have 2 or 3 days, which if you want to also go to France and Italy, is all you have.

    Speaking of that, I really recommend 3 nights in almost any city you visit. If you try to go faster you’ll end up spending too much of your time on trains and in train stations. On such a short trip you might be able to squeeze 3 nights in Paris if you also want to visit Italy. But if Switzerland is your top priority it would be best to choose France OR Italy rather than both. The classic quick visit to Italy is 1 or 2 nights in Venice, 2 or 3 nights in Florence, and 3 nights in Rome. I’d recommend 3 nights in Interlaken and then 7 nights in Italy if you only have 10 days.

    You definitely don’t want to rent a car if you are mostly visiting cities. Parking is very expensive, as is fuel, and many roads have tolls. It’s also very stressful to drive around a country where the signs are all in languages you don’t know. Many first-time visitors pull it off, but honestly the trains are a thousand times easier and more pleasant. As long as you are doing a shorter trip like this, booking trains individually at least two months in advance should be cheaper than a Eurail Pass.

    Since your time is short I’d recommend flying back to Geneva from Rome. Or if you are doing Paris at the end you could take the train, but flying is faster and probably cheaper as well. This should at least help you get more planning done. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Stephen says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks for the help on some questions I had a week or so ago, I appreciate it. I do have another question for you regarding Italy. Right now our plan is a 15 day trip to London and Italy (Decided to not go to Paris). We will probably have about 7, maybe 8 days in Italy and was wondering the best cities for us to visit? Our thought right now was definitely Rome as the last stop since we are flying back home from there and then also Venice. If we squeezed in a 3rd city, do you have any preferences? We aren’t real big into art and museums and will see a lot of that in London and Rome so maybe more of a place to take in the views, culture, food, and a little more low key than that of Rome and Venice? Cinque Terre looked like a pretty neat place, but wasn’t sure?

Thanks for any help you can give!

    Roger Wade says:


    Well, in Italy the “Big 3” are Rome, Venice, and Florence, so really Florence is the obvious third stop for you. It’s right in between Venice and Rome, and it’s much more low-key than the other two as well. There are some famous museums there, but you’d still be very entertained if you passed on those. It’s the biggest city in Tuscany, so Florence is famous for food and wine. It’s also a short train ride from Pisa and Siena for a day trip. And there are these wonderful little hill towns nearby that are popular for day trips as well.

    If you had 9 or 10 days in Italy I might have also suggested Sorrento as a great place to visit Naples, Pompeii, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast, but with only 7 or 8 days I wouldn’t recommend that.

    The Cinque Terre feels quite overrated these days, unfortunately. They are simply these 5 small coastal villages that are traditional and fairly photogenic. But since they have been “discovered” by foreign tourists like us, they are so insanely crowded that the magic is lost during the summer months. You can do a one-day visit from Florence if you want to see them, but I wouldn’t recommend spending several days there. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Sue says:

Hi Rodger – Great site, I have read ALL the responses & it has been super informative!

My husband & I are travelling to Europe in July 2017 to celebrate his early retirement & to attend my nephews wedding in the village of Perreux, France. I think we will be flying into/out of London as it seems to be the cheapest flight, unless you have a better suggestion (we are travelling from Vancouver, BC Canada).

So, our plan is to spend a couple of days in London when we arrive & again before depart. Now the hard part…we would really like to see Paris, Rome, Venice & Barcelona, keeping in mind that we will need 3 days in Perreux for the wedding. Not sure if all this is do’able, perhaps we should leave Barcelona for another trip? It would be great if you could suggest an itinerary for us, maybe you could do one with Barcelona & one without?

Also, I see that you recommend a lot of travel by trains. However, what little research I’ve done, trains seem to be very expensive. Perhaps you could also let me know which train company’s I should be looking at to book for our travels. Ryanair seems to be very affordable…thoughts?

I can’t wait to read your suggestions!!
Thank you so much for time,
Sue 🙂

    Roger Wade says:


    Flying in and out of London makes sense as long as you plan on doing some sightseeing there as you mentioned. After that you’ll want to take the Eurostar train to Paris. After Paris you definitely want to take the train to Perreux, although a flight to Lyon and then a train or car from there could also work. The train will be far more pleasant and obviously scenic as well.

    You could potentially take a train from Paris to Barcelona and then trains from Barcelona to Perreux. The other option would be to fly to Barcelona from London or any of your other stops. Personally, I’d save it for another trip. Barcelona is wonderful but so are Madrid and so many other places in Spain, and on a future trip you could see those places without going so far out of your way.

    If you skipped Barcelona or visited before Perreux you could then take a train from Perreux to Venice. That would be a long day so perhaps flying from Lyon to Venice (or nearby Treviso) would be better. After one or two days in Venice you could take a train down to Rome. Most people stop in Florence on the way for a couple days because it’s another wonderful city and it’s in between Venice and Rome. Either way, you’ll definitely want to take trains because they are fast and fairly cheap in Italy. Then a train down to Rome for 3 nights or so.

    From Rome you’d definitely want to fly back to London for your flight home, or perhaps fly directly from Rome back to Vancouver if you can get a good fare that way.

    Trains are quite cheap if you book at least 2 or 3 months in advance on the official rail websites. For France it’s, for example. For Italy it’s You can book the Eurostar on the France site.

    Ryanair is cheap, but the fares don’t include luggage or some other things so they aren’t as cheap as they seem. The seats are also small. I prefer easyJet, although it is similar in many ways. There are other airlines on those routes at around the same fares as well. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Sylvia says:

Hi Roger. Very helpful website! Our son was just accepted into a study abroad program near Paris, so we’re thinking of meeting him there when it finishes in mid-June and travel for a couple of weeks. Do you think it would be too rushed or too much travel time to fit in these locations: London (3 nights), Paris (3), Rome (3), Venice (1), Interlaken (2). What travel order would you suggest? And are any too far apart that we would have to consider flying?

I think I read that you suggest starting in London first to lessen the shock of going to a different country. Does it really matter? If so, we could go to London, then pick up our son in Paris and continue, or maybe start in Paris and end in London so he can visit London with us before flying home to the US?

Is there a particular city (e.g. London) that would make sense to start/end with to minimize the flight cost to the US?

If that’s too many locations, I would skip Interlaken, although you make it and Esther’s Guesthouse sound very nice.

Thanks for any suggestions.

    Roger Wade says:


    Your plan sounds quite good and I don’t think it’s overly ambitious. All of the cities on your list are popular enough that you could start in any of them without experiencing any shock, so starting in London isn’t too critical. That said, your route could be a little complicated if you start in Paris.

    If you wanted to start in Paris you could fly there and then take the Eurostar train to London. Then fly to Rome and then take a train to Venice. You could then take a train to Interlaken, and then fly home from Zurich. The train trip between Venice and Interlaken is one of the most scenic in the world, so it’s worth the time it takes compared to flying.

    If you started in London you could fly there and then take the Eurostar to Paris. Then you can take a train to Interlaken, then that incredible ride to Venice, and then another train ride to Rome for your flight home or your flight back to London for your flight home. Interlaken is really wonderful and will be a nice contrast to those cities, so I highly recommend it if you have time.

    You’ll want to check airfares for the different options. It might be cheapest to fly in and out of London or Paris and then fly back into that city before your flight home. But sometimes you can find an “open-jaw” fare into one city and home out of another that is cheap enough to be the best option. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Joe says:

Hi Roger, I will greatly Appreciate your suggestion on an itinerary, it’s our first trip to Europe and we are flying to Paris in Late May 2017 and will like to add Gotenburg, Sweden to visit relatives for a three days max, we have a total of 18 days. Can you suggest the routes with fly/ train etc, thanks in advance.

    Roger Wade says:


    It’s hard to confidently make recommendations for most of your trip, but I can give you some advice and a few options. You’ll want to spend 3 or perhaps 4 days in Paris, and if you have 3 days set for Gothenburg/Göteborg then you have 11 or 12 days remaining. As this is your first trip to Europe I’d recommend that you fly in and out of Gothenburg. The other option would be to take a train to Copenhagen and then another to Gothenburg and then fly out. But that would take a LOT of time and I think Copenhagen and that southern area of Sweden is better for a future trip rather than a first trip to Europe. In other words, you’d need half your 18 days in order to include Gothenburg by train, so just flying in and out will only take those 3 days plus travel time going and flying out.

    I notice there are cheap flights from Gothenburg out of London and Rome, so you could potentially fly there from one and fly from Gothenburg to the other. So one thing you could do is fly to Paris for 3 or 4 days, and then take the Eurostar train to London for 3 or 4 days. From there you could fly to Gothenburg for 3 days, and then fly to Rome. You’d have 8 or 9 days left, which is a perfect amount of time to see Italy. You could spend 3 nights in Rome, then take a train to Florence for 3 nights or so, and then a train to Venice for 1 or 2 nights. From Venice (or nearby Treviso) you could fly back to Paris for your flight home.

    If you really did want to spend more time in Scandinavia you could fly into Paris for 3 or 4 nights and then take a train to Amsterdam for 3 nights. Then take a train to Copenhagen for 2 or 3 nights, and then another train to Gothenburg for 3 nights. At that point you’d have 6 or 7 nights left, and you could fly to London and then take a train back to Paris, or you could fly to Rome for a quicker tour of Italy. I think those are your best options for a first trip to Europe where you really want to see the best and most memorable cities and also Gothenburg. I hope that at least gives you some ideas. I’m happy to answer other questions if you have them. -Roger

      Joe says:

      Hi Roger, Thanks so much, we are deciding on not visiting Sweden again but are looking at the various options, we found a cheap flight to Barcelona. Can you suggest the best and cheapest itinerary we can consider from Barcelona for the 18 days? Many thanks!

        Roger Wade says:


        I’m not able to type out a whole new itinerary for you based on a new starting city, but I will mention that if you are going to Barcelona you should spend 3 nights there and also take the high-speed train to Madrid for another 3 nights. Both cities are large and quite different from one another. You could fly elsewhere from Madrid for cheap, or if you skipped it you could get to Paris from Barcelona on a high-speed train in 7 hours. Flying might be better though.

        Everything else I mentioned before still stands. The best cities for first-time visitors are London, Paris, and the Big 3 in Italy (Rome, Florence, and Venice). Amsterdam is another excellent one, although it’s a bit out of the way from those others. I’ll be happy to answer some specific questions if you have them. Have a great trip. -Roger

Tom says:

Hi Roger,

My wife and I are planning to take our boys to Europe this summer (7-10 days) with the only must see being Paris. Excluding the UK (been there done that), what should be at the top of our list? I’m guessing no more than 2, maybe 3 cities and plan on spending 3-4 nights in Paris. Appreciate any assistance or advice you have to offer! Thanks!

    Roger Wade says:


    If you have 7 to 10 days total then you are going to want to stick to 2 or 3 cities, as you say. Paris is worth 4 days if you have them, which it seems that you do. The easiest “great” city to reach from Paris (excluding London) is Amsterdam, which is a bit over 3 hours away by train. Amsterdam is amazing, and the boys should really enjoy it. It’s very different from Paris as well.

    For a third city you could add Brussels and/or Bruges, but those both feel like lesser versions of Paris and Amsterdam respectively. On longer trips they are worth a visit, although maybe not on this trip.

    An option that might be even better is to make a stop or two in Germany on your way to or from Amsterdam. Have a look at this article on where to go in Germany and check out Fussen and Rothenburg ob der Tauber. You could do both of them in 2 or 3 days, although it would be a bit of a rush in 2 days with all the traveling. Both of those are very different from Paris and Amsterdam, and both should be very interesting for kids as well. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      Tom says:

      Thanks for your prompt reply! So 4 days in Paris definitely sounds like a plan. The boys seem to be fixated on Italy, and I thought perhaps 3 days in Rome would be a good option. I can already tell we’ll need a few more trips to scratch the surface of all these amazing places. Interestingly, why is it so much more to travel via train vs. flying between cities? I’d love to see the countryside, but double the expense seems crazy. Thanks again!

Nat says:

Hi Roger,
My mum, daughter (18 month) and I, have 21 days arranged for in Europe this coming May. We return home from Rome. I’m just trying to work out the best way forward, we definitely want to see Paris, possibly Amsterdam,Munich, Austria, Switzerland, Italy. Is this do-able? What cities would I be best to visit in that time frame? It doesn’t need to be in this particular order, other than we start from Paris and leave fromRome, so anything in between could be flexible. I think I have established I will travel by train. Do you think it would be easy enough travelling with 18 month on trains etc. Would love to hear what you think? I’d appreciate any of your advice please, your comments are amazing.

    Roger Wade says:


    I’ll be happy to try to help. If you have 21 days starting in Paris and ending in Rome, you can see a lot. My recommendation is for 3 nights in pretty much any city you visit, except for a few small cities like Venice that can be appreciated in one or two days. If you try to go faster than 3 days per city you’ll end up spending half of your trip on trains and in train stations.

    With that in mind you really have time for 7 cities in 21 days. Start in Paris and I’d probably skip Amsterdam on this trip because it’s in the opposite direction from all of your others. The fastest Italy visit that I’d recommend is 6 nights, including 1 night in Venice, 2 nights in Florence, and 3 nights in Rome. I’d recommend at least 7 nights for you in order to get the most out of your visit. So if you are 3 nights in Paris and 7 nights in Italy, you have 11 nights in between. But spending 4 nights in Paris and 8 or 9 nights in Italy could be even better, so don’t feel the need to race around quickly.

    Your choices in between are Munich (3 nights, Vienna (3 nights), Salzburg (3 nights), and your visit to Switzerland should be 3 to 5 days in Interlaken and Lucerne. I get this question so often that I wrote a whole article on where to go in Switzerland on a short trip. You might also consider other stops in Germany, which I cover on my article on where to go in Germany.

    With that information you should be able to examine your choices and figure out the best itinerary for your tastes. Starting in Paris you can take a train to Munich or Austria or Switzerland and when you’ve seen those places you can take a train through the Alps to Venice, which is a gorgeous train ride. As you mentioned, the train is by far the best way to get around. If you buy your train tickets at least a month or two in advance they will be surprisingly cheap as well.

    If you are wondering if an 18-month-old would do well on trains, I’d say almost certainly yes. The trains in the areas you are going are all modern with clean bathrooms at the end of each carriage, and enough room to get up and walk around as often as you need to. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Vincensa says:

Hi Roger,

I’m so glad I’ve found this article! Me and my fiance are going to europe for our honeymoon. We have 30 daya, so much to see. We’ll be going in june, I know it will be so crowded that month but we don’t have so much choice so we’ll go with that plan.. So I loved to viait your cities that you recommened and we’ll starting and ending our trip in amsterdam, and because we have enough time so countries I had in mind is netherland, london, swiss, germany, france, spain (barcelona), italy(not gonna miss it!), and santorini. It would be great if you could suggest an itinerary for us. About cities we should visit and routes. Would love to hear what you think, I’d appreciate any of your advice please. Thanks a lot!

    Roger Wade says:


    I really prefer not to do itineraries from scratch, but I will try to help. First off, I always recommend 3 nights in each city on trips like this as the ideal balance between seeing a lot and also not spending too much time on trains and in train stations. So if you have 30 days you should think about 10 or perhaps 11 cities. Paris and London are so big and full of attractions that 4 days is better, while Venice is small enough to see in about 24 hours or two nights at most.

    And you should also think more about cities rather than countries. Let’s start with the ones we are sure about.

    Amsterdam 3 nights
    London 3 or 4 nights
    Paris 3 or 4 nights
    Rome 3 nights
    Florence 2 or 3 nights
    Venice 1 or 2 nights
    Barcelona 3 nights
    Santorini 3 nights

    That is 21 to 25 nights and doesn’t include German or Switzerland. If you want to include Germany then Munich and Berlin are the obvious choices, though Berlin is a bit out of the way for you. In Switzerland the best choices are Interlaken and Lucerne.

    I have several articles that should help you decide which cities to include.

    Where to go in Germany
    Where to go in France and Italy
    Where to go in Switzerland

    After you skim through those you should have a better idea of exactly where you want to go in your 30 days. Once you have a list of destinations then it will be fairly obvious how you will string them together into an itinerary. You’ll want to take trains between most of them, except for Santorini which will obviously require flying in and out.

    I’m happy to help as you are getting your itinerary more together. Have a great trip and congrats. -Roger

BH Ung says:

Hi Roger,
First and foremost congrats on your travel articles. Me and my wife are planning our first Europe tour end of March till mid April this year. We loved to visit some of the cities featured in your articles. Our itinerary is as listed below.
28 March Fly from Dubai to Rome
29 March Rome
30 March Rome
31 March Train from Rome to Florence
01 April Florence (Half-day tour to Pisa)
02 April Train from Florence to Venice
03 April Venice (Half-day tour to Murano, Burano and Torcello)
04 April Fly from Venice to Barcelona
05 April Barcelona
06 April Barcelona
07 April Fly or train from Barcelona to Paris
08 April Paris
09 April Paris
10 April Paris
11 April Train from Paris to Amsterdam
12 April Amsterdam
13 April Amsterdam
14 April Amsterdam
15 April Amsterdam to Dubai

I would appreciate if you could provide us recommendation on accommodation (Hotels or AirBnB) and transportation ie: trains and airlines (how to go about booking the train tickets and nearest train stations in the cities).
Would love to hear from you soon. Thanking you in anticipation.
Warm regards,
BH Ung

    Roger Wade says:

    BH Ung,

    Your itinerary looks really good and very well planned. As for transportation, it looks like you’ve got that figured out as well. Trains are your best option except for that flight from Venice (or Treviso) to Barcelona. From Barcelona to Paris, the train takes about 7 hours, while the flight would take about 5 hours from city center to city center. The train is far more pleasant and the scenery is quite good in much of it. Personally, I’d take the train because it’s comfortable and relaxing, but a flight would be a bit quicker and might even be faster.

    This article covers how and where to buy cheap European train tickets. Each city has one main station (except for Paris which has a few, but only one main station that goes to any given destination), and it’s cheapest to buy tickets online at least a month or two in advance on the official rail websites for each country.

    As for hotel accommodations, I have articles with recommended hotels in all of those cities except Florence. Here is the recommended Paris hotels article. You can find the others by looking at the main page for each city on this site and checking the middle column below the main text. Here is the main Rome page, for example.

    Without knowing your budget and tastes it would be hard for me to recommend specific hotels. Also, the room rates go up and down depending on how many rooms they have sold. Airbnbs could be a good option in these cities as well, although you’ll find that very few apartments have central locations in these cities. If you want to be in the heart of the tourist district and walking distance to many attractions, hotels are usually the better option. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      BH Ung says:

      Hi Roger,
      Appreciate your prompt response. Shall get in touch with you should I required more information/assistance.
      Thank you and regards,

Parinitha says:

Hi Roger,
I am so glad I stumbled upon this site. It is by far the most extensive and sorted site for planning a Europe trip. Ill try to be as precise about my questions as possible. My husband and I are planning a 16 day trip to Europe in 2017. The places we have in mind are Italy, Paris, and Amsterdam.
1. The most suitable time to visit these places (any way we can beat the crowd in Italy?
2.Best route given we are traveling from Bangalore, India. (I believe flying in to one country and flying out of the last one saves some time and travel)
3. I had planned the Big 3 (Italy) as also suggested in your blog. Should we also include the much popular Amalfi coast in the trip?
4. For my itinerary, should we buy a eurail pass or book all the tickets in advance?
Thanks in anticipation!

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m glad you found this site as well. Interestingly, I just wrote an article about the best time to visit Italy. You’ll see that if you can go in April or May you’ll get smaller crowds, better weather, and lower room rates.

    If you can get a good fare flying into Amsterdam and flying home from Rome, it would be ideal. You could fly into Amsterdam and 3 days later take a train to Paris. From Paris it’s best to fly to Venice or nearby Treviso Airport. After 2 days in Venice you can take a train to Florence for 3 or 4 days, and then a train to Rome for 3 days or so. The train from Paris to Venice takes a whole day and costs a fortune. You could of course also do it in reverse, ending up in Amsterdam.

    In order to enjoy the Amalfi Coast you’d need 3 days more. It takes most of a day to get from Rome to Naples to Sorrento and then to Positano or Amalfi, and most of a day to get back to Rome. So only having one full day in Amalfi isn’t worth it really. I’d save that for your next Italy trip when you don’t also want to spend more time in Rome or Florence.

    A Eurail Pass would not be good value for a trip like this, so you’ll definitely want to book the train tickets online in advance. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Karen says:

My family and I want to travel to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Venice, and Rome during the end of May for 2 weeks. We are having some difficulties in starting to plan out travel…how do we go about traveling to the different countries as well as within the country. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Roger Wade says:


    The best way to do that would be to fly into London for 3 days and then take the Eurostar train to Paris for 3 days. Then take the train to Amsterdam (3.5 hours) for 3 days. Then fly to Venice (or nearby Treviso) for 2 days and then take the train to Rome for 3 days. From Rome you can fly home or fly back to London for your flight home. That is the easiest way to do it, but there are other ways and you can do it in reverse if you prefer. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      KAREN says:

      Hi Roger,
      Thank you for your quick response. The family is now thinking that it might be better to visit Ireland and Scotland instead of Italy (they prefer to do it on an entirely separate trip). How would you recommend the itinerary? Which cities in Ireland and Scotland? Once again thank you so much!

Danielle says:

Hi Roger,
I’m glad I stumbled across this site too! Your information has been EXTREMELY helpful. I am planning a trip to Europe for 10 days in October 2017. Which cities should I visit for the best experience? I know we can only do 2 or 3. I’m torn between Paris and London OR Rome and Florence. Any advice will help. Thanks

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m always happy to hear that people find this useful. If you’ve got 10 days I’d recommend doing 3 cities. You could spend 5 days in London and 5 days in Paris, and do a day trip or two from either or both and have 10 great days, but I think you get more out of another city than you get out of the 4th or 5th day in the same city.

    As you mention, you could to London and Paris OR a visit to Italy, and combining them isn’t as easy. So here are your best options:

    London 4 nights then take the Eurostar train to
    Paris 3 nights and then a 3.25-hour train ride to
    Amsterdam 3 nights

    Amsterdam is really wonderful and very easy to visit because everyone there speaks flawless English. It’s also VERY different from Paris and London. You could either fly home from Amsterdam or fly back to London for your flight home, as long as you pay attention to which London airport you are using.

    Or, as mentioned, you could do 5 days in London and then the Eurostar to Paris for 5 days. That would give you time to visit Stonehenge or Oxford or Cambridge on a day trip, or even spend a day in Bath and Bristol. And in Paris you’d have time for a day at Versailles or any other day trips.

    Actually, 10 days in Italy is plenty of time to see 3 or 4 cities. Venice is small enough that 1 or 2 nights there is ideal, especially if you arrive early and/or leave late. You could do 3 or 4 nights in Florence, which would give you time for a day trip to Pisa or Siena or even Cinque Terre if you like. There are also some really nice hill towns nearby that make good day trips. And then you’d have 3 or 4 days in Rome. I really recommend Rome for 3 days to most people because those two full days are enough to see the main sights, but not so much that you really get frustrated with how chaotic the city is. Still, it’s filled with attractions and 4 days would be good as well.

    You could also do a day or so in Milan, which is the main transport hub in the north and has fairly cheap flights. In other words, you could potentially fly into Milan for a day, then a train to Venice for 1 or 2 days, then a train to Florence for 3 or 4 days and then a train to Rome for 3 or 4 days before your flight home. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

KAREN says:

Hi Roger,
I apologize, I also wanted to ask in what order do you recommend visiting the cities and how to travel from city to city. Hotel recommendations and currency exchange would also be greatly appreciated. This is our first trip to Europe and don’t want to get overwhelmed. Thank you so much for your help, it is greatly appreciated.

Caitlin says:

Hi Roger, I have reading all your articles, thanks for an amazing site, it is a wonderful resource. I am thinking of doing a mid June – early July for 21 days first trip to Europe with my husband. This is the only time we can go within the next 2 years.

Flying from Australia
Arrive London (we have family living there we want to vist)
A few days in London
A few days exploring English countryside/grand old houses etc

Amsterdam 3 nights – free accomm with a friend
Then Paris for a few days
Then French countryside/nature/chateau

I would love love to see Italy but not sure if there is realistically enough time to do it, what do you think? Our trip would be centred around cities but I do also want to see other parts of the country, and not be too rushed. Also not sure about round trip vs flying in to London, and out of Paris or Rome. Like historical sites, food, culture and nature.

Many thanks for any advice you could offer!

    Roger Wade says:


    Thank you. So let’s say you are doing 3 days in London and 2 additional days in England. And then 3 nights in Amsterdam and 3 or 4 nights in Paris. That’s 11 or 12 nights full of highlights, and you have 9 or 10 nights to go. If you spend 2 nights elsewhere in France, that gives you 7 or 8 nights left, which is just about perfect for an Italy visit if you’d like to do it.

    The best way to add an efficient Italy visit to your trip would be to fly from Paris or another French airport into Venice or nearby Treviso Airport. Spend 24 to 48 hours in Venice, as it’s a small city that is also crowded so it’s best to do it fairly quickly.

    After Venice you will take a 90-minute train ride to Florence and stay there for 3 nights. Then take the 2-hour train ride to Rome for your final 3 nights. Venice, Florence, and Rome are Italy’s “Big 3” for very good reasons. They are all quite different and all loaded with sights and experiences. After Rome you could fly home if you can get an affordable open-jaw ticket, or fly back to London for your flight home. If you do it the latter way it’s important to make sure you pay attention to the different London airports. The long-haul flights almost all go in and out of Heathrow, while the cheaper flights from within Europe mostly fly into the other 4 London airports, so you need to leave enough time to get between them or fly into Heathrow only.

    I get questions all the time from people trying to plan the cities on your list in a total of 10 or 11 days. Those people are being WAY too ambitious, but to do them in 21 days feels just about right. You’d be moving around pretty quickly, but slow enough to enjoy each stop.

    On the other hand, if you wanted to save Italy for a future trip, you could also have a wonderful time focusing only on England, Netherlands, and France in those 21 days. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Martha says:

Hi Roger, I have reading all your articles, thanks for an amazing site, it is a wonderful resource. We are planing our first trip to Europe, thinking of doing a mid Aug for 15 days, with my husband and my son (16 years) and my best family friends 2 adults- 1 boy 18 years

Flying from Toronto
Arrive London (we have family living there we want to vist) and stay 3 nights
Amsterdam (a few hours) and then by train or fly to Dusseldorf 3 nights – free accomm with a friend.
Then Prague 2 days
Then Paris for 3 days
Then Barcelona 3 nights
Then fly Barcelona to Toronto
Aldo could you please advice the best way to do the visit by train or fly, and which sites are the best and cheaper.

What do you think? We really want to enjoy the trip and not be too rushed.

Many thanks and waiting for the best recommendations.


    Roger Wade says:


    Thank you. Your plan looks quite good and well thought out. I can provide a few comments.

    From London you can take the Eurostar train to Brussels and then another fast train to Amsterdam, but flying is about the same amount of time and it might be quicker. Either one would work, although the trains are more pleasant and obviously more scenic.

    If you haven’t been to Amsterdam before then it’s a shame if you are only staying a few hours. It’s an amazing and very photogenic place. The train from Amsterdam to Dusseldorf is only a bit over two hours. If you buy your train tickets far enough in advance you can get them as low as €19 each way, so you could potentially do a day trip. Dusseldorf is kind of a generic German business city, but nearby Cologne/Koln is interesting.

    From Dusseldorf to Prague you’ll want to fly, and 3 days would be better than 2 in Prague, but 2 is still fantastic.

    From Paris to Barcelona there is a new high-speed train that takes 7 hours. Flying is a bit faster, even including airport transport time, and it’s probably cheaper as well, but it’s worth checking fares.

    To check airfares it’s best to go to the official rail website for the departure country for that leg. For example, here’s a page on the official Netherlands rail site about Amsterdam to Dusseldorf trains. I have all the links and more information on my article on buying European train tickets in advance.

    For flights I usually use, but Momondo is another good one for Europe.

    One last comment is that you’ve chosen a group of very interesting cities (with the possible exception of Dusseldorf, but a friend visit is nice), yet they are quite spread out. For example, if you substituted Berlin for Prague on this trip, you could take a train and it would be faster. Or if you did Munich instead of Prague, you could take trains there and to Paris. Or you could do Interlaken, Switzerland instead of Prague and the train rides would be faster and shorter.

    Still, your itinerary will work and those are great places you’ve chosen. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Valerie says:

Hello Roger,

You are incredibly kind to be taking so much of your time to help everyone in these comments. Thank you.

I was wanting to ask your opinion: my husband and I are doing our first European trip next month. So far I only have the roundtrip tickets to and from Paris. We have 7 nights. I will be 5 months pregnant and do not want to overdo anything, so I was thinking of taking the train to Amsterdam when we land in Paris, spend two nights in Amsterdam, then our last 5 in Paris. I wasn’t wanting to short change Paris, but it looks like you might instead recommend 3 nights in Amsterdam and 4 in Paris. What are your thoughts?

Thanks for any information,

    Roger Wade says:


    Your plan sounds good. Paris is definitely much larger than Amsterdam so 4 or 5 days will be ideal. I could go either way on this, but I think the thing I’d use to decide would be what time your train to Amsterdam would get in. Your flight to Paris will probably land in the morning, so the question is how long it’ll take you to reach Amsterdam. It’s about a 3.25-hour train ride from central Paris, but you’ve got to go through Immigration and Customs and then get transport into Gare du Nord train station to catch the train to Amsterdam. If you think you can get to Amsterdam by 4pm or so, then you’ll have the whole evening to look around and the whole following day to see the highlights. But if your train from Paris gets in later than that, I think you should stay in Amsterdam for 3 nights so you have time to enjoy it.

    Paris in 4 nights is plenty for nearly anyone to see all the main things on their list, and also just wander around the neighborhoods. Bon voyage and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Lidia says:

Hi Roger,
My husband and I are planning to go in September for 28 days. We are flying from Australia and thinking to fly into London and leave from Rome. London, Paris, Rome are our must do’s. Would like to ask your opinion on our itinerary:
London 6 nights – train to Paris
Paris 5 nights – fly into Rome
Rome 5 nights
Would like to add in Positano and spend a few days just to relax there
I’ve deliberately put in extra nights in this places so we can do day trips outside of the main cities.

I want to include Spain while husband wants to include Switzerland but I’m not sure about the best route option.
What would you recommend? Will Spain be too much out of the way?
Or would London-Paris-(Switzerland)-Pasitano-Rome makes more sense?

    Roger Wade says:


    This sounds like a great trip and I’m glad you are starting with a relaxed schedule and thinking about adding to it, instead of starting with a crazy schedule and then having to take things out.

    As you suspect, Switzerland is much easier to shoehorn into your primary itinerary compared to Spain. If you did choose to include Spain, it would probably be best to fly from Paris to Barcelona or Madrid, and then take the high-speed train to the other one, and then fly from there to Rome after spending 3 nights in each. Both cities are quite different from each other, and both very worthwhile for 3 nights each.

    Since you are planning on spending most of the rest of your 28 days in larger cities, I’d think that Switzerland might be a more interesting contrast as well. The Swiss cities don’t compare to the cities on your list, but the Alpine and lake sights are arguably the best and most dramatic in all of Europe. After 5 or so days in Interlaken and Lucerne, the big cities will be easier to take again. If you are going to Switzerland you might find my article about where to go in Switzerland to be useful.

    Speaking of Italy, you might also consider adding Venice and/or Florence to your visit there. Those cities along with Rome are Italy’s “Big 3” for a reason. You could take a wonderful and scenic train ride from Interlaken or Lucerne to Venice and spend 2 nights there. Then take a short train ride to Florence for 2 or 3 nights there before heading to Rome for your stay there. I’ve also got an article on where to go in France and Italy, which may be useful.

    As for Positano, it’s lovely but it’s also a bit out of the way. The closest big airport is Naples and from there it’s a 1.5-hour train ride to Sorrento and then a bus or private car for another hour or so to Positano. So you could fly into Naples and then go to the Amalfi Coast in the way I described, or you could visit Rome and then take a train to Naples and then the other train and bus or car. By the way, I’m a huge fan of Sorrento as a place to base yourself in that region, as it’s really nice and also close to Naples, Pompeii, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast.

    You’ve got enough extra days to do this trip in a variety of ways that would work well. So it’s really just up to you to decide which places are your highest priorities after you consider the travel options in getting to each one. I’m happy to help if you have more questions. -Roger

Brighid says:

Hi Roger,

I’m planning a trip to Europe in January 2018. I would love to see a snow covered pretty European city or village as well as a castle.

We are flying into and out of London. (Coming from Australia)

I would love to see Madrid (where I was born 40 years ago in Jan), and Munich, where my husbands family are from.

I plan to spend the most time in London as I have family there.

I will have 12 days. Could you suggest any pretty snow capped city or towns to visit that we could visit? And also a possible itinerary?

(I have been to Paris so don’t plan to go there)

Many Thanks in advance for your suggestions & ideas.


    Roger Wade says:


    First off, my standard recommendation is to spend 3 nights in pretty much every city you visit. You can spend 2 nights in some smaller towns, especially if they are close together and you don’t spend all day traveling to get there. The 3 destinations on your list so far are all quite far apart, so you’ll really need to fly between them. Fortunately, there are cheap flights all over Europe and you can get very good fares if you book early.

    As for a photogenic European city or village that will be covered in snow and also has a castle, you can’t do better than Salzburg, Austria. Fortunately it’s about 90 minutes by train from Munich, so spending 2 nights there would be okay.

    My itinerary suggestion would be to fly into London and spend 3 or 4 nights there. Then fly to Madrid for 3 nights. Then fly to Munich for 3 nights, or at least 2 nights. Then take that train to Salzburg for 2 nights. You could then fly back to London for 1 last night, or if you stayed for nights when you first got there, you could try to fly back into London shortly before your flight home. The tricky part of that is most cheaper flights from Europe into London will land at one of the smaller airports, while your flight back to Oz probably uses Heathrow. So you have to leave enough time to get from one airport to Heathrow, or stay one last night in London and fly home the next day.

    As I mentioned, London, Munich, and Madrid are all great cities, but they are all spread apart. I would normally suggest trying to include cities that are closer together and saving at least one of these for a future trip. But if you want to do these cities now, at least Salzburg is close to Munich, so it’s not too bad. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Uma says:

Hi Roger , We are planning our first trip to Europe. We are landing in London on 6th May and flying back home from Paris on May 19th.

The initial plan was to stay in London for 7 nights and head to Paris on 13th May. This kind of long stay in just 2 cities was planned to ensure that my kid is not drained in travel . He is just 6 years old.However, now we are seeing if we can include 3 days in lucrene as , we also wanted to see something very scenic.
May 6 – Arrival
May 7 to 12 London
May 11 -13 Lucrene
May 14 – 18 Paris
May 19 Heading back to India

Is it doable and does it sound reasonable plan?

Thanks in advance,

    Roger Wade says:


    Your dates are a bit confusing. I assume you mean May 7 to 11 in London and then to Lucerne for 3 nights and then to Paris for the remainder? If so I think it will work very well. Four nights in London will be plenty to see all of the top sights on your list, and the same is true for Paris. The best way to go is to fly from London to Zurich and then take a train directly from Zurich Airport to Lucerne. You can take a very scenic train journey from Lucerne to Paris in about 5 hours, which is faster than taking a train back to Zurich and then flying to Paris.

    The one last comment I’ll make is that Lucerne is really wonderful, but it’s not as scenic or dramatic as the Interlaken area, which isn’t far away. Have a look at my article on where to go in Switzerland and you’ll quickly see what I mean. Interlaken is also extremely popular with Indian visitors, and there are quite a few Indian and vegetarian restaurants there. Lucerne has a few of them as well, but Interlaken has more. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      Uma says:

      Thank you so much Roger for your valuable inputs. Yes, there was typo w.r.t dates.

      I thought Interlaken is considered like a transit area to go to mountain tops and May month may not be very idle to travel to those places. Please correct me if I’m wrong. I’m gald to hear about Indian restaurants around that place as that has been one of the key criteria to choose our accommodation.

      Also would you suggest going to Amsterdam instead of Swizz considering the weather or is it manageable.

        Roger Wade says:


        The weather in Switzerland will be very nice in May, as it will be in Amsterdam. There can be rain in the warmer months in the mountains of Switzerland, but it’s still spectacular and usually doesn’t last too long. Amsterdam is easier to reach from London than Switzerland is, and it would also be a good choice, but Amsterdam is obviously another large city, while Switzerland is all about the amazing scenery.

        The town of Interlaken is quite nice, but if you can manage it I’d recommend staying up in Gimmelwald or Murren, as described in that article I linked to above. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

          Uma says:

          Thanks heaps Roger. Will look for accommodation around the area you suggested.I have one last question. My uncle is also travelling with us. He has back pain issues. Would the slopes be so steep that will make it difficult for him to travel around? If not which other place you would suggest for accommodation in such a way that he need not walk around too much but at the same time enjoy the scenery ?

          My next concern may sound very stupid.Pardon me for it. We have never been exposed to temperatures less than 20°C. So bit worried about how my kid will cope up. Hope it is not a major issue.

          Roger Wade says:


          Gimmelwald does require walking a bit up and down hill, but the slope is gentle for the most part. If you can book at Esther’s Guesthouse, it’s only maybe 100 meters from the cable car station. The slope is a little steep when you first get off the cable car, but at least it’s a very short walk and then most of the town is on a very gentle slope. The town of Murren is mostly flat, so it could be a better choice. Have a great trip. -Roger

Emerald says:

Hi Roger! I really appreciate that you take time to respond to everyone. I was hoping you could give me some suggestions.

My husband and I are taking a long overdue honeymoon in August. We will be arriving and departing from London. We will have 15 days.
My husband wants to see Prague and Budapest and I want to go anywhere in France (I have a minor in French and no good reason to use it in the US,). We would like to spend some time at the beach and are interested in architecture and history.
We will have our 7 month old son with us and our budget is quite small.
Thank you for your time!

    Roger Wade says:


    Congratulations on being able to do the honeymoon. Especially if you need to keep this on a smaller budget, I’d skip trying to spend time on a beach on this trip. Half of Europe’s office workers are on holiday in August, and they all flock to any beach that is even half decent. Hotels will be very expensive and everything will be packed. Europe’s beaches are mostly disappointing in general.

    I’d recommend 4 nights in London and then the Eurostar train to Paris for 4 nights. You mention wanting to go somewhere in France, and Paris is definitely your best bet. It’s actually half empty in August since the workers are all at the beaches, and hotel prices are modest as well because there is almost zero business travel going on. Some restaurants will be closed, but most are open and it’s easy to get tables. I was just in Paris this last August, by the way.

    From Paris you should fly to Prague or Budapest for 3 nights and then take the 6 hour 40 minute train ride from one to the other for 3 more days. From there it’ll be best to fly back to London for your flight home. The only tricky thing about that is your flight home will probably leave from Heathrow and the cheaper flights from Budapest or Prague will probably land at Gatwick, Standsted, or Luton airport. So you’ll either have to allow time to get from one airport to another, or fly into Heathrow for a higher price.

    This will be an amazing trip and you’ll see amazing architecture and history and scenery. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Laurel says:

Thank you for the list and your reasoning. We have been to Rome and Venice and loved both, and the three cities we have under consideration are your other three: London, Paris, and Amsterdam! You make me feel like we’re on the right track. We are considering keeping our “must see/do” list minimal, and mostly just walking around, taking it all in. What are your thoughts on seeing the sights vs letting serendipity be our guide?

    Roger Wade says:


    I think sightseeing strategies are a personal choice. Personally, I love travel planning (which is why I started this website) and knowing my best options before I arrive. I rarely make a hourly schedule for my trips, but I do like to plan on which of the top sights I want to visit on each day.

    As for those 3 cities you’ll be visiting, I know them all very well and actually lived in London for 6 months last year. In my opinion, London is better with a plan because it’s so spread out that you’ll miss most all of it if you just walk around near the Thames or your hotel area. As long as you plan a bit you can still walk around aimlessly once you are in the right spots. I lived in Notting Hill, and I never got tired of walking around the Portobello Road area, even though it was packed with tourists. The same is true for the Camden Market area, which is another real gem. Once you get off the Tube you can walk around for hours and enjoy whatever you stumble upon. But I think it’s important to go to those neighborhoods rather than just walking wherever you happen to be.

    Paris and Amsterdam are a bit different in that I think you can really just walk and enjoy whatever you find. They are both really beautiful cities with great architecture throughout the whole center. In Paris I highly recommend a visit to the Montmartre area in the evening. Take the funicular up to the Sacré-Coeur cathedral and then walk the windy streets back down for an unforgettable evening. Amsterdam is quite a bit smaller so it’s even easier to enjoy on foot. Make sure you visit the Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein areas in the evening for the most dining and nightlife options. Even if you don’t want nightlife, the clubs and lights are something to see. Aside from those, the closer you are to the main train station (Centraal Station), the older and more interesting the city is. Have a great trip. -Roger

N.Kay says:

Hi Roger!

Im so glad that I crossed path with ur blog while researching for my euro trip I find your blog is full with bits of interesting facts & routes of the EU countries! Ill be goin for my trip in coming Dec 2017. I hope you can shed some lights on how to arrange my routes *fingerscrossed*.

My rough plans is to travel for 20-25days. Kickin it off from Amsterdam and final destination to be in the UK. Cities that I have in mind but yet to be finalised :
– Amsterdam
– Vienna
– Budapest
– Venice , Rome, Milan
– Lucerne, Interlaken
– Paris

Please let know of your thoughts if these are reasonable & doable within the timeframe?
Hope to hearing from you soon and many thanks in advance for your inputs & ideas Roger!

Kay, Malaysia.



    Thank you for the nice words, and I’m a big Malaysia fan so I’m happy you found this website.

    My first bit of advice is that you really should spend 3 nights in almost any city you visit, except for the smallest ones such as Venice. As I say so often, that gives you two full sightseeing days, which is just about perfect to be able to visit all of the best sights there and sample the cuisine and such. If you try to visit in two nights that only leaves one full sightseeing day, and you’ll have to rush around in order to just see the top things on your list. A day traveling between cities also means checking in and out of hotels and getting to the airport or train station, and all of that eats up most of the day.

    I’d recommend 3 nights in Amsterdam and 3 or 4 in Paris, and 3 in Rome. Venice can be done in about 24 hours, although 2 nights is better unless you are already in Italy. Milan isn’t much of a tourist city, especially compared to Florence, so unless there is something specific you want to see in Milan you might consider skipping it or switching to Florence.

    Budapest is quite nice, and interesting, and affordable, but it’s also quite remote from the others on your list.

    It seems like you may have already read my article on where to go in Switzerland, and in that case you know that 3 nights in Interlaken is ideal, and 2 nights in Lucerne is a nice bonus on top of that.

    Hopefully with all of that in mind you can decide which 7 or 8 cities will work best for you, and be able to put together a basic itinerary. I’m happy to help as you get further into the process. -Roger

Jeffrey says:

Hi Roger!
My 17 year old daughter is graduating from High School at the end of May and as promised, I’m taking her to see Paris, which she has always wanted to see. I’m rather excited to see it myself. We are flying into Paris from San Antonio, Texas and will have 23 days before we have to fly back. My question to you is that we would both like to see some sights outside Paris (kind of a “tour of Europe” if you will). I definitely planned on spending at least 3-4 days in Paris since that was her main wish but then I planned to rent a car and drive towards Italy, stopping in Geneva for one night along the way (anything worth seeing there?). Then, heading towards Milan for a day, then Venice for perhaps 2 days, then Florence for 2 days, Rome for 2-3 days, Nice/Monaco area for 1 night, then over to Barcelona for 2 days, then down the coast to Grenada for 1 night, Seville for 1 night, then on to Lisbon, Portugal for 1-2 nights (I’ve heard great things about Lisbon and Portugal. Can you advise on this?). Then over to Madrid for 1-2 nights and then start making our way back to Paris with an overnight stay somewhere around Toulouse or Bordeaux. That’s a grand total of 21 nights, so it leaves 2 extra nights to play with. My daughter (and myself) look forward to seeing all the major “tourist” sights like Eiffel Tower, Palace of Versailles, State of David, Coliseum, Sistine Chapel, etc. I would also like to see a few famous gardens along the way, including Monet’s gardens at Giverny, while my daughter would like to attend a few plays while on our trip. We both look forward to visiting museums. Also, I’m assuming that having my American Driving license and car insurance is enough to rent a car in Paris and drive it to all of these places? Please advise? So, what is your overall opinion of this trip? doable? Any suggestions for eliminating certain cities/adding other ones, using different modes of transportation? Also, sounding very selfish here, but I’ve already been to London, Brugges and Amsterdam, so I’m choosing to not go to those cities (she can go with her special someone when she’s out of college?). I’m basically trying to get a good Western Europe Tour here for the both of us (always taking the attitude of “I may never be back”). Not sure if that’s the right approach but its worked for me so far on all my other trips. I kind of get a taste of each city and then decide if its a “come back to city” or not. Thanks for any advise/suggestions. It’s much appreciated.



    I’ll be happy to try to help, and I’ll answer the questions in the order they came up. By the way, I’ve spent about 6 of the last 11 years traveling and living outside of the United States, but at the moment I’m actually based in Kerrville, so we are neighbors.

    Your trip sounds wonderful and I’m sure neither you or your daughter will ever forget it. First off though, I highly recommend against renting a car for a trip like this. As you remember from your London, Amsterdam, and Bruges trip, parking in European cities is challenging and very expensive. Honestly, they make it that way on purpose, to discourage precisely this sort of thing. If you drove your options would be to spend maybe €30 per night to park and deal with traffic headaches every time you come and go, or stay in hotels outside of the city, and spend a couple hours each day going back and forth. The good news is that train service in the areas you are going to is exceptional, comfortable, and reasonably priced. It’s also far more enjoyable than driving.

    Another thing to consider, and this is true whether you are driving or taking trains (or flying, actually) is that each time you change cities it will take up most of the middle of that day. This means that a travel day is not really a sightseeing day. If you check out of one hotel after breakfast at 9am and check into your next hotel at 2pm, you’ll only have a couple hours before things start closing for the day. In other words, it’s best to stay 3 nights in most larger cities, and 2 nights is enough for some smaller ones. That translates into 2 full sightseeing days in bigger cities and 1 full sightseeing day in smaller ones. So if you stay 2 nights in each city, you literally spend every other day mainly focusing on transit.

    One way to do this would be to head to Nice after Paris for 2 or 3 days and then take a train to Milan or Venice. Milan isn’t a great tourist city compared to Venice, Florence, and Rome, but it does have a few interesting things to see. The fastest tour of Italy that I recommend is 1 night in Venice (it’s small and crowded, so if you stay on the main island you can do some sightseeing in the evening and morning, when it’s less crowded, and then leave), then 2 nights in Florence followed by 3 nights in Rome. Adding a night to Venice and/or Florence is even better.

    From Rome it might be best to fly to Spain or Portugal, as the flights will be cheaper than trains and obviously much faster. You could, for example, fly from Rome to Lisbon (a great city, by the way) and after 3 nights you could fly to Madrid or take the overnight train. Then take the 2.5-hour train to Barcelona for 3 nights or so. After that you could take a train back into France to visit a stop or two before heading to Paris again.

    As an American myself, I love a road trip, but really the trains in Europe are so much nicer of an experience that I highly encourage you to base your itinerary on them. Also, the earlier you buy your train tickets (up to 3 months or so in advance), the cheaper they will be. The advanced tickets in Italy are particularly cheap. I’m happy to help more, so let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Anne says:

Hi Roger,

I am travelling to Europe from New Zealand with my husband and two teenage sons, and would really appreciate any suggestions you can give in regards to our itinerary. I’m not sure what would be the most efficient way or order to see the places we have on our list! We are planning to be away for a month.
We would like to go to London (3 days), the Cotswolds/Bath (3 days),
Paris (5 days), Loire Valley (2/3 days), Amsterdam, Bruges, Prague, Vienna or Salzburg, Lucerne or Interlaken, and Italy. (Venice, Florence, Rome). Are there any of these places that would be better left out to make the itinerary more efficient?

Many thanks, Anne



    I’d say you’d need about 38 days in order to have a good and quick visit to all of the places on your list. Since you are shooting more for 30 days, you should probably trim away a few. It’s tempting to suggest you save the Cotswolds and Loire Valley for a future trip, but if you do that then you are pretty much only going to large cities for most of your month.

    My standard advice is to plan 3 nights in almost every city you visit. Larger and more famous cities like London and Paris can be better in 4 nights, while smaller cities such as Venice or Bruges can be done in 1 or 2 nights. In other words, if you have 30 nights then it’s best to choose 10 to maybe 12 total stops.

    Unless you have family there or another special reason to visit, I still think the Cotswolds and Bath might be better for a future trip when you can explore Britain more fully. But the Loire Valley has some really amazing castles and big sights, so that might be a good break from the cities early in your trip.

    Bruges is really nice, but it will remind you of a much smaller and more mellow version of Amsterdam. Saving it for another trip might be better. Prague is pretty amazing and many people go there after a stop in Berlin, but it’s still worthwhile if you skip Berlin. Vienna and Salzburg are nothing alike to choosing between them is difficult. You might want to visit both of them, and you could do Salzburg in only 2 nights if you had to. Vienna is a large and formal capital filled with great architecture, while Salzburg is a charming old town up against the Alps with a big castle above and gorgeous scenery all around.

    If you only have a few days to spend in Switzerland I’d recommend Interlaken. I was asked so often that I wrote an article on where to go in Switzerland, and you may find it helpful.

    You can get from Interlaken to Venice in 6 hours on one of the most scenic train rides in the world, changing in Milan. I’d do Venice in 2 nights or you could even do it in 24 hours and then move on to Florence on a 2-hour train ride. Stay in Florence for 2 or 3 nights, and then save 3 nights for Rome because it’s big and so full of top sights that 3 nights is really the minimum.

    Those are my general thoughts and hopefully they will help you figure out which places you want to keep and which you might save for later. I’ll be happy to help more as you are putting this together, so feel free to ask again. -Roger

ANSHUL says:

Hi Roger,

I have seen some great advice on the comments section. I would seek your advise for planning my eurotrip with my wife and my 2 year old for about 15 days (but I am flexible to add few more days).

I would love to go to London, Switzerland, Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin….Would like to add an Italian city if it fits the itinerary.

I am presently based in Melbourne, Australia.



    I highly recommend planning 3 nights in each of those larger cities on your list. So you could do 3 days in London then 3 days in Paris then 3 days in Amsterdam and 3 days in Berlin. You could then take a train to Interlaken for 3 days in Switzerland. If you wanted to go to Italy from there you could fly or take the train to Rome for 3 days, which would be the shortest visit to Italy that I would recommend. If you want to add Prague you could do it after Berlin. I mention in many other comments why I think 3 nights is really the best length for these big cities. The short version is that your travel days will only leave you with a bit of sightseeing time. So if you change cities every other day, you are basically spending half of your trip traveling rather than seeing the sights.

    Hopefully this helps you figure out whether you want to add more days or cut out some cities. I’m happy to help more if you need it. -Roger

Jeffrey says:

Dear Roger,
The reply button wasn’t working, so I’m replying through the comment section. First, Thank you for answering my questions and its nice knowing you’re in Kerrville. It’s a lovely town. I was wondering if there are trains to places like Monet’s garden in Giverny, the various Chateaux’s in the Loire Valley, the Alhambra in Grenada? Also, what does one do with one’s luggage if stopping to see one of these places before checking into the hotel and you’re arriving by train? Also, the dates that we’ll be arriving in Paris is September 17th and the departing on October 11th. Will most of the tourists be gone during this time? Also, should the weather be pretty nice, even in the higher elevations during this time period in France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Portugal? Thanks again,
-Jeffrey Harris

ANSHUL says:

Thanks Roger!
The reply button isn’t working so I am replying through comments section. I appreciate your advice and am planning to schedule the trip in a way that I spent 3 nights in a country.

Earlier I was planning Melbourne to London return but I am open to fly from Melbourne to London and return Paris to Melbourne if that fits the itinerary best.

I have shortlisted the cities as London, Paris, Amsterdam, Prague, Vienna and Interlaken. Can you please advice the sequence in which its best to visit these cities.

I am planning the trip in August this year.




    If you can start in London and fly home from Paris, I’d do London then the Eurostar to Brussels and then to Amsterdam by train. Flying might actually be cheaper, although far less enjoyable and obviously less scenic. And flying isn’t really any faster either. From Amsterdam to Prague the fastest trains take 10.5 hours, and it’s mostly a dull and flat ride, so I’d fly instead.

    Take the train from Prague to Vienna in a bit under 4 hours. Unfortunately, the train from Vienna to Interlaken takes almost 10 hours. It’s very scenic, especially the second half, but that’s a long trip. You might instead fly from Vienna to Zurich and then take the train to Interlaken. From Interlaken to Paris it takes 5 hours and 18 minutes by train, and the first half of it is very scenic.

    If you look at the map I’m sure you notice that you’ve selected cities that are mostly quite a distance from each other. If you don’t want to fly so much you might consider doing Berlin instead of Prague. Then you could do Berlin to Vienna in a bit over 9 hours by train, or you could get from Berlin to Salzburg in a bit over 8 hours. I hope this helps. -Roger

Paulina says:

Hi Rodger!
I’ve found so much useful information in the comments section and I’d love some advice. I’m planning a 2 month Europe trip in 2017. This is the places (in order) and the number of nights we are planning to stay in each place.

London – 3 nights
Barcelona – 3 nights
Paris- 5 nights
Loire valley (tours)- 3 nights
Amsterdam- 3 nights
rothenburg- 2 nights
Berlin- 4 nights
Kraków- 4 nights
Prague- 4 nights
Venice- 2 nights
Florence- 3 nights
Cinque Terre- 3 nights
Rome- 4 nights
Mykonos- 4 nights
Naxos – 4 nights
Santorini- 4 nights
Athens- 2 nights

I’m am going with my partner and we are planning to save $30,000 aud (which is about $22,000 usd) between us which includes everything (flights, accommodation etc…)

Overall, what do you think about this trip. does it seem reasonable?



    Thanks for the kind words. Your trip looks amazing. Any room for me? You are allowing plenty of time in most cities, which is where most people seem to go wrong. My standard advice is a default of 3 nights in each city. However, on a 2-month trip you don’t want to visit 20 cities for 3 days each, so your plan to stay a 4th night in many cities seems wise. Still, 3 nights in the Cinque Terre might be kind of long. Those towns now have tourism that is so out of control that they want to only let so many people in each day. They were evidently very special when few tourists knew about them, but now it’s like visiting a theme park. In other words, you might enjoy a day or two there, or maybe 3 days is fine.

    The only other comment would be on the 3 different Greek islands near the end. I haven’t been to all of them, but in my experience the islands tend to be quite the same for the most part. Each has a few unique sights, but the restaurants and hotels and beaches will feel familiar. You might consider spending some time in Turkey, which will be quite different. It’s just something to think about. Overall I think your plan looks great and I’d think that your budget should work out pretty well since you are spending quite a bit of time in the cheaper parts of Europe. -Roger

Sriram says:

Hi Roger,

Great blog! Makes planning our trips a lot simpler – thank you very much for this…

I am from India and am planning a 20-day Europe (solo) trip in September. I have been to London before, so it will mostly be Western Europe. Please let me know what you think about the plan below.

1) Paris – 4 days
2) Brussels – 1 day (on the way)
3) Amsterdam – 3 days
4) Prague – 3 days
5) Gimmelwald – 2 days
6) Interlaken – 2 days
7) Rome – 3 days
8) Back to Paris

Prague looks to be far from Amsterdam, so I’m happy to replace it with something else to save time (or reorder) – do you have any suggestions?

The trip duration is also flexible – I can extend it by 4-5 days (though it will stretch my budget). If I am missing any obvious places there is room for one or two of them – please suggest (prefer nature/quiet places to cities/nightlife)

Thanks for your help!



    Your plan looks really good. You are right that Prague is fairly out of the way, but it’s a very special place. Berlin would be another one to consider, but it would also require a 9-hour train ride to Interlaken. Prague to Interlaken is 11.5 hours, by the way. For a more direct route, you might consider a stop or two in Germany. You’ll find quite a few interesting options on my article on where to go in Germany. Cologne is an obvious one to consider, but so are Munich, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and Fussen. Even Luxembourg City could be a good stop. Salzburg is another one that you’d love if you can fit it in. The scenery around Salzburg is some of the finest in all of Europe, and it’s a charming town as well.

    Hopefully that gives you a few ideas. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Varun says:

Hi Roger,

Wanted to seek your advice for my first EU trip. I am planning September end but on a tight schedule of 10 days.

Can you please suggest how should I plan my itinerary(I shall be coming from India)

Thanks in advance,



    If you have 10 days I’d recommend choosing exactly 3 cities, and hopefully ones that are easy to reach from each other. As mentioned in the article above, I think it’s a mistake to skip Paris and London and Rome on a first trip in order to save a bit of money going to cities that aren’t as interesting. It’s very easy to combine London and Paris on a trip, and you could also visit Amsterdam as your third city, all by very efficient trains.

    You could spend all 10 days in Italy, or you could do something like Paris for 4 days then fly to Venice for 1 day then to Florence for 2 days and finally Rome for 3 days. That is the fastest tour of Italy that I recommend. I wrote a more recent article on how to plan a Europe trip of between 1 and 3 weeks. I have many other suggestions there for groups of cities that are easy to visit together. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Varun says:

Hey Roger,

As I am planning during Oktoberfest(sorry, forgot to mention), I shall be heading to Munich first.

Let me know if below seems like a plan:

2 Days – Munich
2 Days – Prague
2 Days – Vienna
3 Days – Croatia

Although I agree that I am rushing a lot to cover as many Major cities as possible but based on your experience, let me know if Quantity can be trimmed for Quality 🙂


Sallie says:

Hey Roger,
Myself and a friend are traveling to europe, we will meet up next week on Paris on the 9th of June We have 3N in Paris, departing paris on the 12th of June. I fly out of Rome on the 20th of June. We are planning on going to Barcelona, French Riviera, Venice, Cinque Terra and Rome. is this dooable, and if so how much time in each? Cinque Terra may not be possible I think.



    It sounds like you have 8 days after Paris before you fly out of Rome. You definitely want to spend 3 nights in Rome itself, which gives you two full sightseeing days. With 5 remaining days in between you won’t have time to see all of those other places. I’d cross Cinque Terre off the list, partly because it’s a bit remote, but really more because it’s now very overrated because it’s insanely crowded to the point that it’s not nearly as charming as it was when people started recommending it.

    I’d say your choices would be to take a train from Paris to Barcelona and then 3 days later fly to Venice and then two days later take a train to Rome. Or you could save Barcelona for a future trip and take a train from Paris to Nice for 3 days and then a train to Venice for 2 days before going to Rome. Or you could do the more traditional Italy visit and fly from Paris to Venice for 2 days and then take a short train ride to Florence for 3 nights and then to Rome for 3 nights.

    The main thing is that it takes a good chunk of your day to go from one city to another, whether by air or train, so you don’t want to move cities every day or every other day. If you try to see too many places you’ll end up spending most of your holiday in transit rather than seeing what you flew all that way to see. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Yvonne says:

Hi Roger,

My siblings and I are planning a trip to Europe. We’ll probably have about 25 days. We would be travelling from Mid Dec to early Jan. Since the weather will be pretty cold, do you have any places that you recommend for this time period/ places that are less ideal. Can you also recommend places that will be nice to spend Christmas & new year at?

We’ll be travelling around UK and Paris before the 25-days trip.

Thank you for your help!



    Earlier this year I started compiling my best monthly recommendations for European destinations, and the first one was best Europe destinations in February. To be honest, the upcoming list for December will be similar or identical, since these are already the best places to go in Europe in winter. My advice is to focus on the cities that aren’t quite so cold, along with the most famous cities that are interesting no matter what the weather is.

    As far as where you might spend Christmas and/or New Year’s, I’d say pretty much any place on that same list would be good. Just be aware that in a few countries they celebrate Christmas (the main celebration) on a different day. For example, the big day in the Netherlands is in early December. Even then, there is at least a small celebration on December 25 everywhere. I’d probably opt for a larger city since there should be more choices of things to do, and there should be more things open. If you went to a smaller town you might find that almost everything is closed for 2 or 3 days around the holiday. New Years is the same everywhere, and of course the larger cities have the larger celebrations. You might have to reserve accommodation longer in advance because some cities do get booked up with people from the surrounding area coming in to party. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger


Hi Roger,

This blog is such a great read. I would really appreciate suggestions from you as our vacation days are limited to justv10 days. My husband and daughter are flying out of San Francisco to Europe for the 1st time. I am jealous as we are unable to see London due to time constraint with visa application – this trip is a last minute plan. So going by your suggestion we’d like to see Paris & Italy – what would be the 3rd city you’d suggest. Can you possibly suggest an IT for us?
God Bess you!! You are an amazing world traveler! Thank you for sharing your thoughts to all. It’s much appreciated.





    I’m glad you find this helpful. If you have exact 10 days and you want to see Paris and Italy I would stick to the basics and hit all of the major cities. In other words, I’d spend 3 or 4 nights in Paris and then fly to Venice (or nearby Treviso Airport) and spend 24 hours there, staying on the main island so you can experience it in the evening and early morning when there are far fewer tourists. Then take a train to Florence for 2 or 3 nights. Then a train to Rome for 3 nights before flying back to Paris for the flight home or flying straight back home from there. Of course you could do it in the reverse order where you start in Rome and finish in Paris.

    That 10-day trip will give you all of the top highlights of both countries without rushing so much that you feel like you are spending half your time in transit. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Mireen says:

Hi Roger,

Thank you so much for your input. We are able to add 2 more solid days to the trip – you think we can squeeze in Amsterdam? That being said what would be the best route between Amsterdam – Italy – France? We will have 12 days total.





    The high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris is just a bit over 3 hours. If you only have 12 total days I think you should spend 2 or 3 days in Amsterdam then 3 or 4 days in Paris. From there it’s best to fly to Venice (or nearby Treviso) for 1 night, then a train to Florence for 2 nights and then a train to Rome for 3 nights. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Bianca says:

Hi Roger!

Just want to say that your blog is such a big help especially to first time travelers in Europe. My friends and I are planning our eurotrip for October this year. We already booked our round-trip tickets to London and we would want to visit France and Italy. We have 15 days. We will start in London and we are still deciding which city should we go next? We are considering that we have to go back to London for our flight back to our country. We also want to add 1 more city to this trip. Maybe Amsterdam? Which city do you think we should add that will not make our trip too tight and what’s the order of the cities?

Thank you and more power to you!




    I’m happy to try to help. As mentioned in the article above, you can’t go wrong with Amsterdam. It’s a gorgeous and fascinating city, and it’s also very different from all of the others you’ll be visiting. Here’s what I’d recommend…

    Fly into London and spend 3 or 4 days there. Take the Eurostar to Paris and spend 3 days there. Then take the high-speed train from Paris to Amsterdam, which takes a bit over 3 hours. Spend 2 or 3 days in Amsterdam and then fly to Venice (or nearby Treviso). Spend about 24 hours in Venice and then take a train to Florence for 2 days. Then take a train to Rome for 3 days, followed by a flight back to London. One thing to be aware of is that the cheaper flights from Rome to London will almost certainly land at Gatwick or Luton or Stansted Airports in London, and your flight home is probably out of Heathrow. There are buses between the airports, but they do take some time. So you either have to allow enough time or pay more for a flight into Heathrow.

    The itinerary above would be enjoyable, but also a bit rushed. I’d say the other thing to consider would be to save Amsterdam for a future trip and fly straight from Paris to Venice. That way you could spend a bit more time in London and in Italy. Florence is worth 3 days if you have them, and Paris could be better in 4 days than 3. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Lucia says:

Hello Roger!!
First of all, congratsss on having such an awesome blog with such useful information!!!!
I am planning to go to Europe with my husband and 3 kids, aged 14, 13 and 5, next july 2018. We have 15 days in total, and it will our kids’ very first time in Europe…. with your expertise, what would you recommend we visit in those 15 days we have in order for our kidsto experience the “best of europe”?
Thanks in advance for your time and dedication!!!!



    That is going to be a fantastic trip. If you have 15 days I’d recommend choosing exactly 5 cities to visit. You might be interested in a more recent article I wrote for questions like this on my best recommended first-time in Europe itineraries.

    Generally I think Paris is the best lynch pin for any first Europe trip, and I recommend 3 nights there or maybe even 4. It’s only 2 hours by train to London on the Eurostar from Paris, and you can make it to Amsterdam on a high-speed train in just a bit over 3 hours. So those 3 are an easy set to group together. As mentioned in the article above, the other two most dramatic European cities in my opinion are Rome and Venice. You can see Venice in only a day or two because it’s small (and very crowded). I like Rome in 3 nights because it’s much larger but it’s also kind of chaotic so it’s not as fun to linger there as some other cities.

    So you could, for example, fly to London then take the Eurostar to Paris and then a train to Amsterdam. Then fly to Venice (or nearby Treviso) and then take the train to Rome before flying home or flying back to London for your flight home. Or you could save Amsterdam for a future trip and do Venice, Florence, and Rome, which are the Big 3 in Italy. Anything like that is going to be amazing for the whole family. Have a look at that other article and maybe it will give you other ideas as well. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

PAM says:

Hi Roger,
I am planning two Europe itineraries as a first time traveler to Europe. We are all 21-23 years old. My first trip will include Athens, Rome, Paris, and Amsterdam beginning to mid September, 2017 with a couple friends (all first timers). My trip with this group ends in Amsterdam. I will then meet up with a different friend Mid Sept-Mid Oct for 2-3weeks. Being I will be in Amsterdam as my last stop and then meeting up with my friend traveling in, we are unsure of the best location for her and I to fly into to meet and begin our travels together. We would like to experience Oktoberfest in Munich and uncertain of best areas after that. We also love beaches and coastline when possible. Can you please recommend an itinerary that will allow us to make the most of our time in Europe.
Thanks in advance for your time and dedication to helping us first timers!!!
Best regards,



    Munich would be a good place to meet up and then go elsewhere from there since they have a busy airport and it’s usually easy to get decent fares into it. As for Oktoberfest, I assume you are aware that it starts on September 16 this year. It’s fun, but hotels in Munich literally double or triple their rates for that period, and hostels do as well. The other thing to be aware of is that you need a ticket or reservation to get into the beer “tents”. It’s best to sort that out in advance because if you just show up (especially on a weekend) you might be waiting for hours in line to get into a tent.

    Since you are already going to those famous cities on your earlier trip, and especially if you want beaches and coastline on this leg, I’d recommend heading towards Croatia. You could go from Munich to Salzburg and spend 2 or 3 days there. Then you can take a train to Ljubljana, which is a very cool town for a couple days. And then take a train or perhaps even a bus (because bus service tends to be better than train service in Croatia) to Split. Split is really interesting and there are many good beaches and islands right in that area. You could even head to Sarajevo or Mostar if you have more time, or keep going down the Croatia coast to Dubrovnik.

    That is my best suggestion off the top of my head. Let me know if you had something else in mind and I can try again. -Roger

Joseph says:

Hi Roger,
Me and my friend are visiting to Europe next year for 4 weeks in July. We want to visit as many as countries and cities we can. The most wanted countries want to visit are UK, Belgium, Amsterdam, Germany, Italy, Rome Grecce, Spain and France. What could be the best options for us. We actually want to go to the only touristy and wellknown destinations in those countries We are also kinda budget travelers.
Thank you very much for your help in advance.



    If you’ll be in Europe for 28 days, I would recommend visiting 9 or 10 cities total. Three nights in each city is ideal because it allows 2 full sightseeing days to see all of the things you’ve traveled so far to see, but you can still move fast enough to see many things on a trip like yours. One issue that some people figure out too late is that it takes most of a day, or at least most of the middle of a day, to go from one city to another. If you check out of a hostel at 9am to get on a 10am train to the next city, you might check into your next hostel at 3pm or 4pm and you’ll be tired so you won’t get much or any sightseeing done on those travel days. If you change cities every other day it means you’ll be sightseeing one day and traveling the next, for your whole trip. Sitting on trains is fun, but it gets old after a week or two.

    Even so, you’ll have time for 10 or maybe even 11 cities if you plan well. I’d start in London for 3 or 4 nights (London is huge) and then fly or take the Eurostar train to Amsterdam for 3 days. Then stop in Brussels and Bruges for a couple days on your way down to Paris. From Paris you could either take a train to Barcelona or fly to Madrid, or fly to Venice and do Italy. If you book at least a few months in advance you can get cheap flights on these routes, including between Spain and Italy.

    If I were you I’d probably save Greece for a future trip. You’d have to fly into Athens from somewhere, and after 3 days or so there you could take a ferry to one of the islands. Athens is a fascinating and historical place, of course, but the islands are fairly generic because almost everybody else there will be sitting in the sun all day and drinking all evening, which you could do anywhere (including Spain). I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Patty says:

Hi Roger-at the risk of repeating many questions you have already answered, I need some help planning a trip with my 17 yr old daughter (graduation present). Right now, the plan is
5 days in Paris
3days in Venice
2-3 days in Rome
3 days in Positano
4 days in Santorini

While it looks good on paper, when you start accounting for travel days, it gets too long & expensive (we are trying to keep it under 21 days). I think dropping Santorini or Positano would be best but she really wants to go to all of these cities.

We are also toying with the idea of doing Paris, Naples/Positano, Venice, then do a cruise from Venice to Greece to pick up some Greek islands, and fly home from Athens.

Can you tell us what you think of these itineraries–I have not seen you mention the Amalfi coast at all here — and what you think of doing a Mediterranean cruise to catch more cities. We also looked at cruises from Barcelona to Athens.




    I think your cruise idea sounds really good, but first I’ll comment on this itinerary. For a first visit to Paris I typically recommend 4 nights, and 3 nights is enough for many people. In 4 nights with 3 full sightseeing days you can see all of the best places on your list and still have time to shop and stroll through the neighborhoods.

    For Venice I usually recommend 24 to 48 hours at most. It’s quite compact and Venice is also packed with tourists from 9am until 5pm every day, so it’s sort of like visiting a theme park. Sightseeing in the early morning and the evening is most enjoyable. I’d leave 3 nights for Rome because that gives 2 full sightseeing days, which is just enough to see the highlights.

    The Amalfi Coast has many gorgeous views of the few coastal towns, including Positano, but there isn’t much to see or do if you are staying in the town. Positano is built on the side of a fairly steep hill and the pedestrian-only streets are lined with little shops. Once you get down to the beach area it’s mostly restaurants with great views. Those towns are where Italians go to relax and where tourists go to watch Italians relax. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’m a big fan of Sorrento, which is a larger and more interesting town and a great place to take tours of the Amalfi Coast and still have plenty to do, including visit Pompeii or Naples.

    I’ve not yet made it to Santorini, but I know a lot about it and have been to several other Greek islands. Santorini has some interesting sights, and it’s not like Positano, but still it’s a place where almost everyone there is a European who has come to sit in the sun during the day and have a few drinks at night. I love that sort of thing, but it’s not really the same as sightseeing.

    And again, I think the cruise idea could be fabulous. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Sara says:

Hi Roger,

Firstly I must say your website is amazing and you are so helpful and patient with your advice. I read through as much as I can and find your answers and articles really helpful.
After reading , I now sort of have an idea how my trip to Europe might be like fro Mid May 2018 .
This will be the first trip to Europe for both my husband and I. We hope not to need to drive at all. Planning to train as much as possible. We will have 28 days and so far i have a list of cities in mind but hope you can tell us what you think.We are in our 50s, loves to just walk around, eat, visit main sights and just relax….:))

Fly into Paris from Sydney, Australia

Paris…..5 nights

Interlaken…2 nights

Lucerne……2 nights

Venice ……1 night

Como ……..2 nights

Florence ….4 nights

Rome………5 nights

we still have a few more nights to fill…can you help to suggest ?

Thank you very much



    I’m glad you find the site to be helpful. I think your plan looks really good so far, and getting around by train will be far easier and far more enjoyable than any other option.

    Four nights in Florence is kind of a long stay, but that will give you at least a day for a short trip to Pisa (one hour each way) or to Siena or one of the nearby hill towns. Five nights in Rome is also a long time. It’s loaded with top sights, but it’s kind of a crazy place and many people find it exhausting after 3 or 4 days. You might consider heading down to Sorrento, which is just a bit south of Naples for at least a few days. It’s a lovely and pleasant place where more people speak English than in the rest of Italy, and it’s the ideal base for a day trip to Naples, Pompeii, Amalfi Coast, and the Isle of Capri. If you find those places interesting you could spend 4 or 5 days in Sorrento and do something wonderful each day.

    If you could spare one more day for the Interlaken area I think you’d be happier. Two nights only gives you one full day there, and you’d be heartbroken to have to leave so soon once you see the place. Two nights in Lucerne works well though, especially since you’ll arrive on a short train ride from Interlaken.

    I don’t recommend Lake Como to many people, but it sounds like it might be a good idea for you, and those two days should be very relaxing between the busier sightseeing days in the other cities. Hopefully this gives you an idea or two. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Sara says:

Dear Roger,

I am delighted to gt your response so quickly. Thank you very much.

ok, will add one more night for Interlaken. Will reconsider Rome too. I am not confident at all with planning this trip. I had a brief read of Sorrento and like the idea of spending 3 to 4 nights there. Just need to consider how to get there. This will be the first time we are travelling by train and my husband has bad motion sickness!!
If we are to add one more city in France, which city do you think we should consider ?
We will be flying home from Rome

Thanks again.

Linda says:

A friend and I are planning to go to Europe for the first time. I am interested in World War II (Normandy or Battle of the Bulge sights), and my friend wants to go to one concentration camp. Our travel agent suggested France and Germany. We are both in our 60s (one late sixties) and we are thinking of a total of 14 days incuding flight time. We think we could do 3 cities. What do you suggest?



    The Dachau concentration camp is in the suburbs of Munich and easily reachable by public bus. Obviously you want to go to Paris and you can actually get to Normandy by train in about two hours from there, so you could do it as a day trip.

    So if you stay 5 or 6 days in Paris, or maybe 4 days in Paris and 2 days in Normandy, that would be a great visit to France. It’s kind of a long train ride from Paris to Munich so you might want to add in another stop in between or nearby. You could go to Rothenburg ob der Tauber and/or Fussen for something different from the big cities. Both of those are mentioned in my article on where to go in Germany. Have a look at that and see what you think. I’m happy to help with more suggestions if you need them. -Roger

Deborah says:

Dear Roger,

My husband and I are from Singapore and we are planning our first trip to Europe. Stumbled across your website and found your articles most informative.

Wondering if you could suggest an itinerary for us?
We are looking at Nov/Dec season, duration is 15 days.
Perhaps you could aap suggest the best time to go or so during this season and where.

We would love to immerse ourselves in the culture, sight-see, shop, possibly also visit museums on history not so much on the arts of each city.

Thank you for your time!
Deborah (:



    If you have 15 days I would strongly suggest choosing 5 total cities, or fewer if you aren’t so interested in seeing a lot in a short time. Have a look at my recommendations for where to go in Europe in November as well.

    If this is your first trip to Europe then I stand by my recommendations in the article above. I highly recommend London and Paris for sure, and you might also include Rome, Florence, and Venice. That would be a very good 15-day trip, and all of those places are pretty good for a trip that time of year.

    Should you want to avoid Italy for some reason, then Spain is probably the next best choice. Barcelona and Madrid are obviously the key cities, and you could add in Valencia or Seville as well. Hopefully this gives you some ideas. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Deborah says:

Thanks so much for the recommendation!! (= we have read the articles you have mentioned in detail and they have been very helpful.

We have decided to fly to Italy (as my husband wants to go to Rome and we will visit Florence and Venice as well) > Paris and then to London. Wondering if we should fly between or would you recommend the train? Pls feel free to give further input as well.

Thank you so much, again! (=



    You should definitely take the train from Rome to Florence and then to Venice. Those high-speed trains take between 90 minutes and 2 hours, and if you buy them at least a month or so in advance they will be quite cheap. From Venice to Paris it’s probably better to fly. There is an overnight train that is often booked well in advance, but it’s not cheap. And I’m not a bit fan of overnight trains in general. You should be able to get a cheaper flight from Venice or nearby Treviso Airport to Paris. And from Paris to London you’ll definitely want to take the Eurostar train, which takes a bit over two hours. Book that one as early as possible for the best fares as well. I think this will be a great trip. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Cheryl says:

I am planning a 30th anniversary trip for myself and my husband for next summer. We have about 13-15 days to travel, and I am considering several options. We did Italy last year, and Paris the year before, so I am looking at London, Brussels, Bruges, Amsterdam or Vienna, Prague, Budapest and Krakow. Or maybe even Spain….ugh…I can’t decide. Please help. Thanks!



    If you are going in summer I’m not sure I would put Spain at the top of my list. It’s hot and still very crowded. If you’ve yet to make it to London I think that is the best key city for this trip. With about two weeks I would suggest choosing exactly 5 cities to visit, or perhaps only 4. Three nights is just about perfect in any city you visit except the smallest ones or largest ones. London in 3 days is good and 4 days probably better. Bruges is small enough to enjoy in 2 nights.

    So you could do London for 4 nights (you might have a bit of jet lag on the way in) and then take the Eurostar train to Brussels. If you have specific things you want to see in Brussels you might want to stay a night or two, but for me it’s better as just one afternoon. The main square (called Grand Place) is lovely and the area around it is nice, but you can see that in a few hours and a lunch stop, and then the 1-hour train to Bruges for 2 or 3 days. Brussels is also very expensive, while Bruges is cheaper and more interesting for most tourists.

    Then you can take the train from Bruges back to Brussels and then a high-speed train on to Amsterdam for 3 nights or so. You would even have time to take a train to Berlin in a bit over 6 hours. Or you could visit Hamburg or Cologne, which are both closer. Or you could have a more relaxing anniversary trip and spend longer in each city, and only visit London, Bruges, and Amsterdam, plus a short stay in Brussels. One nice thing about that is the trains between them are all fast so you don’t spend a lot of time in transit.

    The other option of Vienna, Prague, Budapest, and Krakow is also interesting, plus you could even include a 2-day stop in Cesky Krumlov. Vienna isn’t exactly cheap, but the others on that route are less expensive than the London version, so the whole thing would be noticeably cheaper. One downside is that trains (and buses) in that part of Europe are still much slower, so you might be spending on average of 6 hours between cities. Prague to Cesky Krumlov is 3 hours and Cesky Kromlov to Vienna is 3 hours, so that keeps travel time down a bit.

    I’ve spent time in all of the cities on your list and each of them is worthwhile in its own way. Getting by on English only is a bit more challenging in Prague, Budapest, and Krakow, but still pretty easy. And again, in cities like Krakow and Budapest you can splurge quite a bit on the same budget. For example, in London or Amsterdam, a US$200 per night hotel room is pretty basic. But in Krakow or Budapest you could get a suite at a 4-star hotel for that. I’m happy to help with more info if you need it. -Roger

Deborah says:

Thank you so much again! We seem to have a few extra days now that we have kind of set our itenarary..We are looking at

4-6Dec in Rome
7-9Dec in Florence (visiting Cinque Terre possibly)
10-11 Dec in Venice
11-13 Dec in Paris

We actually have from 14-22 Dec in London but it seems too much. Should we visit another city do you think? And what would you recommend? We were thinking maybe Lucerne on the way in but it seems a bit tight. Anyway to see the alps on the way from Venice into Paris?




    Your Italy and France dates looks very good for a quick trip. If it were possible I would stay at least another night or two in Paris, especially if you have 8 or 9 days in London after that.

    I would say that 8 or 9 days in London is longer than most people need. It’s also fairly expensive and almost all hotel rooms (and apartments) are quite small, so that could wear on you after a while. You can read about my suggestions for where to go in England, and pick one or two. As long as you buy the train tickets at least a month or so in advance, they are pretty cheap. You could even get to Edinburgh for 2 or 3 days.

    If you haven’t locked it in yet, you could go from Venice to Interlaken or Lucerne for 2 days and then onto Paris for 3 or 4 nights. That would probably be better than spending all of that time in London. The train ride from Milan to Switzerland is glorious on its own, although in December it may or may not be sunny. And in two days or so I would choose Interlaken over Lucerne, although both are very nice. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Kelly says:

Hi Roger,
My husband and I would like to start planning our first trip to Europe for next summer. We are thinking late August or early September. We are travelling from Vancouver, Canada and have about 15/16 days to work with. I want to visit as many countries and cities as I can or at least the main tourist attractions as we probably won’t get to come back for a few years. Cities we want to visit include London, Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Rome and Venice but are completely open to suggestions. We have family in the UK so we want to start or end there for sure.

I have no idea where to start or how many days are needed in each city. Would you be able to suggest an itinerary for us? And modes of transportation between each?

Thanks so much for your help!




    My recommendation is to spend 3 nights in almost any European city you visit, although a city as small (and crowded) as Venice can be enjoyed in 24 to 48 hours. On a day that you are going from one city to another, from the time you check out of one hotel and get to the train station and take the train and then are checked into a hotel in the next city, it takes up most of that day so you won’t get much sightseeing done. With a stay of 3 nights that still leaves two full sightseeing days in each city. If you try to go faster and spend only two nights in a city, it means every other day is sightseeing and every other day is spent in transit. So if you have 15 or 16 days I’d recommend 5 cities or maybe 6 if you just do one day in Venice.

    If you want to visit the 6 cities on your list the best way would be to fly into London and then take the Eurostar train to Brussels and then Amsterdam, or even fly to Amsterdam. Then take the high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris. Then take the high speed train from Paris to Barcelona, or you could fly, although the train would be more enjoyable and they take about the same amount of time. Then fly from Barcelona to Venice (or nearby Treviso) and then take the train from Venice to Rome and end there. I can help more if you have questions. Have a great trip. -Roger

Kelly says:

Thanks for the info Roger! It was very helpful. I feel like I have a good starting point now.

We are actually thinking about skipping London this trip and adding a different country instead. The ones we are considering are: Portugal, Germany, Czechia, Croatia, Greece or Poland.

Can you recommend which one would fit in well with the itinerary you previously suggested?



Francis Cruz says:

Hi Roger,
I’m planning my first trip to Europe next year. The set dates as of now are the end of august. I will be traveling from Chicago and I am working with 16-17 days to work with. As of right now I only think of visiting 3 different cities which are London, Madrid, and Barcelona but I am not sure as to how many days should I stay in each city or can I add more cities. If I can add more cities I am interested in paris, lisbon, and berlin but i am open to suggestions. I am also not sure if taking a plane between cities is better or taking a train.
Can you recommend an itinerary that makes the most of my first visit to europe?



    That’s going to be a great trip. With 16 or 17 days I’d shoot for 5 or perhaps 6 total cities, but probably 5. It would be easiest to fly into London and spend 3 or 4 days there, and then take the Eurostar train to Paris for 3 or 4 more days. Both of those cities are very large and packed with sights, so 4 nights is ideal if you can spare them.

    Then you could take a train from Paris to Barcelona in 6.5 hours. You could also fly, but it would take about the same amount of time when you factor in the airport transportation and early check in, and the train is far more enjoyable. Then you could take the train to Madrid in 2.5 hours. I would recommend 3 nights in Barcelona and Madrid, as each is large and quite different from the other. That would give you one more city to include. Berlin is wonderful and you could include it, but you’d have to fly from one of your cities to Berlin and fly from Berlin to another one. Lisbon is also fantastic and it would be easier to include. Unfortunately, the only train from Madrid to Lisbon goes overnight and takes 10 hours, but you could fly from Madrid to Lisbon for a cheap fare if you buy well in advance.

    Another option would be to add one more city in Spain. Seville, Granada, Valencia, and Toledo are the most popular options, and you can actually visit Toledo on a day trip from Madrid or take a quick train ride there and spend about two days. All of those cities are smaller than Madrid and Barcelona, so two days could be enough if you are in a hurry. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

krishi says:

I have to plan a trip to Belgrade,Serbia for 3 days in Feb 2018 for some official work. I would like to visit some place around that for the next 5-6 days(Total of 7-9days).I am a 1st time visitor to Europe
I had planned:
1) Belgrade 2 nights—> Montenegro 1day —>Rome–>Florence—> Milan/venice.

2) Belgrade–>paris 3 days

3) Belgrade—>rome–>florence–>venice—> Paris

4)Belgrade–>Budapest–> Vienna(Austria)

or any other ways i can make the maximum out of these 7 days and not too expensive



    That sounds like a very nice opportunity. Belgrade is a pleasant enough city and it’s quite affordable, but it does lack memorable sights. One challenge is that the trains and buses that connect Belgrade to other cities around it are all quite slow, and you don’t have much time to spare. There are actually no trains that run from Belgrade towards Italy because the “east” and “west” never needed to be connected when the train lines were built, and the “east” has not had enough money or motivation to build them since. There is pretty good bus service in that whole area, but buses are never quick, of course.

    I’d say you have two options. The cheaper of the two would be to take a bus from Belgrade to a nearby city of your choice. I’d suggest Sarajevo, which is about 7 hours from Belgrade by bus, as it’s a really interesting city that is also cheap and has a photogenic setting. After that you could take another bus to Split, Croatia, which is another favorite of mine and very different from the others. You could fly from Split back to Belgrade or hopefully straight home. I’d recommend 2 or 3 days in Sarajevo and 3 days in Split.

    The more expensive option would be to find the cheapest flight from Belgrade to a city that interests you. I’d suggest Rome or Paris as the most memorable and dramatic. If you went to Rome you could easily spend 3 days there and 2 days in Florence, which is only about 90 minutes away by train.

    Actually, if you don’t mind a longer train or bus ride you have a few other options. Have a look at this article from Seat61 on all of the trains leaving from Belgrade. The trains are slow, but you do have other options. -Roger

stephanie says:

Hi Roger and Happy New Year.
I just stumbled upon your website and cannot begin to tell you how helpful this is. My husband and 18 year old daughter will be traveling to Europe June 2018. Our possible itinerary has us flying into Paris (4 nights), then traveling on to Italy, with hope of getting to Rome (3 nights)/Florence (either 4 with a day trip to Venice or 3 with 1 night in Venice/Venice and Cinque Terre (2 nights)(Vernazza?)
2 questions:
1. Does this itinerary sound too daunting?
2. If not, what would you recommend for transportation? Train for sure in Italy, but not sure about travel from Paris to Italy? Better to fly to Venice or Rome or try to train down?

Thank you so much for your help and any other input or suggestions would be much appreciated. Stephanie



    I’m happy to hear that people find this useful. Your plan sounds like a standard “high-speed” trip through those cities, and by that I mean that it’s pretty much the same schedule that I would do myself if I wanted to see as much as possible. Rome in 3 nights is perfect, and 4 nights in Paris is also ideal. If you can spend at least 2 nights in Florence that is great even if 3 nights is better, and 1 night in Venice is ideal. The thing about Venice is that it’s quite compact and it’s absolutely overloaded with visitors on day trips from about 10am until 5pm each day. You could visit on a day trip from Florence, but you’d have a much nicer time if you stayed on the main island itself for about 24 hours and do as much of your sightseeing as possible in the morning and evening, when the island is actually not all that crowded.

    The trains within Italy are definitely the way to go, and if you book them at least a month or two ahead of time they will be quite cheap. From Paris to Venice or Florence there is a night train, but it sells out early and it’s more expensive than flying. So my advice is to fly from Paris to Venice (or nearby Treviso Airport), and then take trains.

    In the Cinque Terre you would want to focus on Vernazza, as it’s definitely the most photogenic of the 5 towns, but I would probably skip it altogether in June. The thing is, about 20 years ago Rick Steves (who I am a big fan of) noticed that these 5 little towns were a “hidden gem” and almost untouched by tourism. So he recommended that people visit, and they have now in such great numbers that the towns are overwhelmed, especially in summer. If you go in June it will feel like visiting Disneyland because you’ll be surrounded by 5 times as many fellow tourists as locals. Instead you might think about visiting one of the hill towns above Florence, which are touristy but in much smaller numbers. That is a better way of experiencing authentic small town Italy in summer. I’m happy to help more if you have other questions. -Roger

Jund says:

Hi my wife and I are going to Barcelona in the last week of February and we are planning to do a side trip. We have been to London, Paris, Rome. Where else can we go if we have 3-4 days?



    My top choice would be to visit Madrid, which is only 2 hours 45 minutes from Barcelona on the train. Those cites are both huge and very different from each other, so visiting one only gives you a small slice of Spain. Since Madrid is the capital is obviously has the royal palaces and such, while Barcelona is more about unusual architecture and the beaches. I’d say 3 or 4 nights in each of them would be an ideal trip. There are some other good choices in Spain, but in February it’ll be too chilly to enjoy any of the beaches or islands. If you were looking for something different let me know and I’ll try again. -Roger

Devesh Agarwal says:

Hi Roger,
I am planning my honeymoon trip to europe in late March to early April. Below is the list of places That I am planning to visit:
1 Amsterdam( 2 days)
2 Paris(3 days)
3 Nice(2 days)
4 Chamonix(2 days)
5 Zzurich(1 day)
6 Interlaken,Lucerne and surrounding villages(2 days)
7 Venice( 1 day)
8 Florence(1 day)
9 Rome(2 days)

The above list is more or less in order that I would be visitng or if you could suggest some other better order)
Also, I want to see some popular places as well as some hidden gems(off-beat places).
In terms of my preferences, I am not much into museums and architecture(not want to explore in lot of detail). I am looking more towards fun activities(lie paragliding, rock climbing etc) and some romantic sight seeing places.
Also, I dont want to stretch my trip for more than 15 days but at the same time I dont want to miss wonderful places.
Based on my requirements and the places that I have listed down, could you please help me out with my perfect itinerary. It would be nice if you could suggest some other places instead of the mentioned once. But I am really keen on France, Swiss and Amsterdam.



    Your itinerary looks full of highlights, but if you did it as written you would be spending at least half of your honeymoon on trains, in train stations, or going to and from hotels to check in or out. My strong recommendation for any first-time trip to Europe is to plan on 3 nights in any city you visit, except for a few small cities such as Venice where 1 or 2 nights is enough. As mentioned, going from a hotel in one city to a hotel in the next city will take 5 or more hours during the middle of the day in most cases, and sometimes much longer. You don’t get much sightseeing done if you check into a hotel at 3pm and you are scheduled on a 10am departure the next morning. In other words, in 15 days I would recommend choosing 5 cities, or perhaps 6 if one of them is Venice (which is small enough for a 1-day visit). If you can do 16 days then 6 cities including Venice works well, or you could do Florence in 2 days because it’s fairly small and it’s also close to Rome and Venice by train.

    I’d say the most efficient itinerary for your priorities would be to fly into Amsterdam for 3 nights, then take the train (a bit over 3 hours) to Paris for 3 nights. Then take the train to Interlaken (5.5 hours) for 3 nights. Then take the train to Venice (6 hours but extremely scenic) for 1 night. Then take the train to Florence for 2 or 3 nights, and then to Rome for 3 nights. Zurich is very expensive and fairly boring. Chamonix is nice, but Interlaken is nicer and much easier to reach. You could visit Lucerne on a day trip from Interlaken or stay there for 1 night and 2 nights in Interlaken if you like. As always, let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Blair says:

hi Roger, i have been looking through how you helped other travellers and it amazed me.
my head is literally spinning trying to plan this trip.
i am going on a honeymoon trip with my husband this April.
we will fly to London on 10 April and leave from Paris on 1st May.
we also booked a ticket a live MU match on 14th, so we will have to stay at Manchester on that particular date.
could you help us out on the rest dates? thankyou so much



    I’m happy to try to help. You’ve got almost limitless options to fill in those dates, and perhaps scanning another article I’ve written about first-time Europe itineraries will help a bit. I’ll get you started and then give you some suggestions to fill in the middle.

    Stay in London on 10-April until 13-April or 14-April, so 3 or 4 nights. The West Brom match starts at 15:00 on 14-April so you can take a morning train to Manchester and have time to check into your hotel and get to Old Trafford in plenty of time. Or you could come the day before, but personally I find Manchester to be kind of a dud compared to many other English cities and towns. I’d probably just go for that day and then leave the day after the match. As long as you are exploring Britain I would suggest heading to Edinburgh after Manchester for 2 or probably 3 days. I would also plan on arriving in Paris on 27 or 28 April, giving you 3 or 4 nights there before you fly home. Paris is amazing and especially on a honeymoon I would recommend 4 nights there.

    If you included Edinburgh it would mean you’d have about 10 or 11 days to fill in between there and Paris. If you skipped Edinburgh you’d have 13 to 14 days. If you like England you could make other stops there, including maybe a day in Liverpool (which is more interesting than Manchester) or 2 days in York, or a visit to Bath before heading to Manchester.

    My top recommendations for those in-between days would be 3 nights in Amsterdam for sure, and if you want to mix in Europe’s most beautiful scenery you should head to Switzerland for 4 or 5 days. Here is my article on where to go in Switzerland, which should help a lot. You could also go to Berlin and/or Munich in between Amsterdam and Switzerland. Another interesting possibility would be to head to Amsterdam and then fly to Madrid and spend 3 days there before taking the train to Barcelona for 3 days, and then a train to Paris. Have a look at the itinerary article and see is one or more of those suggestions stands out to you. Once we know what interests you most I can help you organize it further into an efficient itinerary. -Roger

Devesh Agarwal says:

Thanks for suggesting the itinerary Roger!!Also I was very keen on towns along the French Riviera which is why I included Nice in the plan.So if I can add 3 or 4 more days to my itinerary, can you suggest me some towns on french or italian riviera and where it can fit in the above suggested plan by you? I am really keen on visiting the coastal towns/villages



    Nice is definitely the best stop on the French Riviera. It’s a very interesting city and it has a wide variety of accommodation that is generally cheaper than the nearby smaller villages. Nice is also only 20 minutes by train from Monaco and 20 minutes in the other direction from Cannes. Antibes is in between Nice and Cannes, and it’s another little gem. As for the Italian Riviera, the Cinque Terre towns are the most famous, but at this point they are so crowded that it is hard to recommend them. I am less sure of some of the alternatives, although there are many. At the time of year you are visiting the crowds in Cinque Terre would be small, so it’s probably a good place to go. Vernazza is the most charming and photogenic of the five towns. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Sam Chaw says:

Hello, I need suggestions as we are planning to book our vacation for this june for Europe travel with our 2 kids. We want to do London,Switzerland, Rome or Venice and Barcelona. How should we plan it and and which places in Switzerland we should go to and Barcelona. in what order should we make bookings etc. should we take trains from London and going forward etc. Please help as I don’t want to use a tour company.



    I’ll be happy to try to help. Have a scan of my article on where to visit in Switzerland and it should help a lot. The short version is the Interlaken should be your number one stop, and also Lucerne if you have more than 3 days or so.

    As you may know, your choice of cities is quite tricky because none of them are close together. If you were to do it as you have written the best thing would be to fly into London and then fly to Zurich to visit Interlaken and then fly to Rome and then fly to Barcelona before heading back home or going through London. If you buy those plane tickets soon you’ll find that they are pretty cheap, although the fares you’ll see at first probably won’t cover luggage or a seat assignment.

    Assuming you haven’t been to Europe yet, I would instead recommend substituting Paris for Barcelona. For one thing, Paris really does live up to the hype, which is why I included it in the article above. Barcelona is really nice and quite interesting, but Paris is really far more memorable and the food is a million times better. If you did that you could start in London and then take the Eurostar train to Paris in a bit over two hours. After Paris you could take a train to Interlaken in about 6 hours. You could fly from Paris to Zurich and then take a train to Interlaken, but it takes just as long and is fairly stressful compared to the more comfortable and relaxing train ride.

    From Interlaken you could actually take a train to Venice or Rome in 6 to 7 hours, or you could first take the train to Venice and then the following day take the train down to Rome. That train ride from Interlaken to Italy is one of the world’s most scenic train rides as it goes through the Alps. Venice is small enough to enjoy in 24 hours or so, and so crowded that 24 hours will feel like enough. Of course, if you wanted to keep Barcelona instead of Paris you could still take the train from Switzerland to Italy and then fly from Rome to Barcelona. If you buy those train tickets at least two months or so in advance, they will be quite cheap. Buy from the official online rail sites for one of the countries you are traveling to or from. This article on buying Europe train tickets in advance has all the info and links to the official rail companies.

    If this is your first trip to Europe it can seem daunting for sure, but once you get there you’ll realize that it’s surprisingly easy and you can visit all of these places speaking English only if you prefer. English is less widely spoken in Barcelona than the others, but even there it’s easy to get along if you are in the tourist areas. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Sierra says:

Hi, Roger. I’ve been reading through a lot of your posts trying to determine the best itinerary for our honeymoon in June 2018. We will be traveling to Europe for 22 days including travel time. We would fly out of Chicago. We are really debating where we want to fly into Madrid, or Amsterdam. We also would like to travel to Switzerland instead of one of the places on our current itinerary perhaps eliminate Sicily or Cinque Terre? Worth it? What would make the most sense traveling wise for a relaxing honeymoon? We are gearing toward the second half of the trip relaxing and ending in Santorini. Please feel free to make any suggestions:

6/28 Traveling from Chicago
6/29 20 hour lay over in Dublin (is this worth it or should we get to Madrid?)
6/30 Land in Madrid @ 10 AM
7/1 Madrid
7/2 Madrid
7/3 Venice
7/4 Rome
7/5 Rome (only two days but we think this might be enough for us.
7/6 Paris
7/7 Paris
7/8 Paris
7/9 Paris
7/10 Sicily
7/11 Sicily
7/12 Sicily
7/13 Cinque Terre
7/14 Cinque Teere
7/15 Santorini
7/16 Santoini
7/17 Santorini
7/18 Santoini
7/19 Santorini
7/20 Fly back home (?) not sure where out of. We could possibly add another day here as well and fly out 7/21.

Thoughts? Again in no particular order. What order would make sense? Should we have eliminate one and make room for Switzerland? Fly into somewhere else other than Madrid?

Thank you so much!



    I’ll take your questions in the order they came up. I would skip 20 hours in Dublin and just head to Madrid. Dublin is nice enough, but if you are jet-lagged it might be hard to enjoy. You could see the Guinness Storehouse and have a look around, but really the best things in Ireland are the small towns and countryside.

    The order of your cities is confusing, which I guess is why you are writing. Cinque Terre is almost in between Rome and Venice so returning to Italy to also visit Sicily seems much more complicated than it needs to be. Honestly, I would recommend eliminating Cinque Terre for this trip, and also saving Sicily for a future trip. Cinque Terre was a charming group of 5 fishing villages as of 10 or 15 years ago, but now they are so packed that the local government is planning on limiting the number of daily visitors. And in July they will be so overrun (because one of them has a nice beach) that you’d barely be able to move. I’ve yet to make it to Sicily myself, and that’s party because it’s surprisingly hard to reach and it’s not one of Italy’s Top 10 tourist areas. If you have family there or some other similar reason then it could be great. But if you just want to explore more of Italy I would recommend Florence, at least one more day in Rome, and at least a few days in Sorrento to visit Naples, Pompeii, Amalfi, and the Isle of Capri. Sorrento is my favorite place in Italy to relax and it should be perfect for a honeymoon. To get to and from Sicily you need to either fly in or take a series of slow trains.

    If you are open to it you might also add Barcelona for a few days after Madrid. The train between them takes only 2.5 hours or so, and the cities are both very different from each other. In fact, Barcelona is now the more popular of the two, partly because it’s on a beach. Or you could go from Paris to Switzerland and then to Venice and then south through Italy. Have a look at my article on where to go in Switzerland for some ideas of what you want to do. I’m happy to help more as your plans start getting more firmed up. I’m sure you’ll have an excellent honeymoon. -Roger

Sierra says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks for the quick response. Sorry it was so confusing. It wasn’t in any order it was just for the sake of tracking the days. I guess the main question I was trying to ask is do we have enough time to visit the following places? What would be the best itinerary? We are taking your advice and eliminating Cinque Terre & Sicily. Where should we start the trip? Thank you so much!

Here are the list of places in 23 days including travel time:



    I think the most efficient way to do this itinerary would be to fly into London and then take the Eurostar train to Paris. Then take the high-speed Thalys train to Amsterdam. Fly from Amsterdam to Madrid and then take the train to Barcelona. Fly from Barcelona to Venice (or nearby Treviso) and then take the train down to Rome. I’m not sure you’ll have time for Sorrento, but if you do you can take the train there from Rome, and then back to Rome for a flight to Santorini. You can visit Venice in about 24 hours, but otherwise I would try to stay 3 nights in each place. If you only have 23 days I would save Sorrento for a future trip. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Anthea says:

Hi, thank you for all the info on your site. My daughter and I are celebrating milestone birthdays (21 and 50) and we’re planning our trip to Europe. We have 2-3weeks but 1 week is taken up by a Royal Caribbean cruise in the middle. We’re flying Klm/airfrance so need to start in Amsterdam, get to Venice then end in Paris. We’d like to cover Poland, Pisa and Rome. I see you recommend 3 days in each place and going south to north. (We’ll be starting last week in June to middle July). I’d like your advice please on how to make it a round trip if possible as we seem to be back and forth and also the travel agent quoted us higher prices on eurail than a hotel night and flight. Are air bnb better than hotels?



    I’m a bit confused by your schedule and where you’ll be and when. If you’ve got 1 to 2 weeks not including your cruise, then you’ll probably want to focus on 2 to 4 or 5 cities. As for Poland I would recommend visiting Krakow rather than Warsaw or elsewhere. Krakow is the former capital and it’s far more charming and tourist-friendly than Warsaw, plus Auschwitz is just outside of town and that is a very interesting and worthwhile half-day or day trip. From Amsterdam to Krakow the train would take over 15 hours so it’s much better to fly.

    From Poland to Italy it’s also too far for a fast or cheap train ride, so I’d fly from Krakow to Rome. After a few days in Rome you can take a short train ride to Florence and stay there 3 days or so. Pisa is about an hour by train away from Florence, and once you’ve seen the Leaning Tower and the cathedral next door, Pisa is pretty dull compared to Italy’s more famous tourist cities, so it’s best done on a day-trip from Florence. Venice is less than two hours by train from Florence, and I would spend a day or two there before the cruise. If you have time after Paris you have many options including London, which is only two hours from Paris on the Eurostar train.

    As far as airbnb versus hotels in Europe, they tend to offer similar value. If you find an airbnb in a central and tourist-friendly neighborhood in one of Europe’s more popular cities, it will be priced accordingly. Hotel rooms in Europe tend to be quite small by international standards, but hotels also tend to have more central locations and they offer helpful services such as restaurant recommendations and directions to popular places that you can’t get with an airbnb. Personally, I usually prefer hotels on trips like this because they usually include breakfast and I enjoy trying the local cuisine for lunch and dinners, so having my own kitchen isn’t much of a benefit. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Bill Cobb says:

I just want to say this blog is amazing. This is my go to page on the internet right now for our upcoming trip to Europe. Thanks so much. We (wife and I) are planning a first time trip to Europe for two weeks in July and I want to include London and Paris for sure, but would like to add Italy to the trip. Would it be possible to hit Amsterdam and skip Venice, but do Rome? I would really like to see Amsterdam and visit the Netherlands and I hear Venice is super crowded. What do you think?



    Thank you for the very kind words. That really makes me happy to read that. Your plan sounds very good and it could work well in a few different ways. It would be easiest to fly into London and spend 3 or 4 nights there, and then take the Eurostar train to Paris and spend 3 or 4 nights there. Three nights is enough, but both of those cities are large and amazing so 4 would be better if you had the time. I’m also a huge fan of Amsterdam, having lived there for a few months at one time and also visited dozens of other times. It would be easy to take the high-speed train from Paris to Amsterdam in a bit over 3 hours. I would stay in Amsterdam for 3 nights.

    From Amsterdam you should fly directly to Italy, or fly to Italy from Paris if you choose to save Amsterdam for a future trip. You could skip Venice, though I am not sure I’d recommend that. Venice is indeed very crowded so it feels like walking through a theme park on a Saturday, but it’s also perhaps the single most beautiful and impressive tourist city in the world for a short visit. If you skip it this time I would recommend putting it on your list for the next time. You could fly from Amsterdam to Rome and spend your final 3 nights there, or you could fly from Amsterdam to Venice (or nearby Treviso) and spend about 24 hours there before taking the train down to Rome. Most people stop in Florence between Venice and Rome, and I recommend that if you have time, but if you are doing London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Rome, you probably don’t have time to spend 2 or 3 nights in Florence as well. I definitely wouldn’t recommend staying only two nights in each city and taking trains between them every other day.

    As always, let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Nat says:

Hi Roger,
I am a big fan of your blog. Enjoy reading your tips and realized I need your help. We have 36 days in Europe. Yes, lucky us, it’s our first trip to Europe. Already have plans to land in London for 6 nights. Then will take the Eurostar train to Paris for 5 nights. Please help with the rest of our travels. We would like to go to:
Italy – Florence, Venice, Rome
Leave Europe from Barcelona to go to New York City (it’s a possibility not for sure) Would you suggest flying from Amsterdam to Milan? From Milan go to Switzerland? Then take the train to Florence? Need your ideas. Should we go to Berlin? Madrid? Lisbon? Any suggestions would help with our planning. HELP!



    That is nice of you to say. I think the most efficient route would be to go from Paris to Amsterdam by train (a bit over 3 hours). From Amsterdam you could go to Berlin and then Munich (you could even visit Prague in between those two) and then Munich to Interlaken. Have a look at my article on where to go in Switzerland for some advice, but the short version is you want to focus on Interlaken on a short trip. From Interlaken you can take the amazing train ride down through the Alps to Venice, after a change of trains in Milan. Then Venice to Florence to Rome on trains. You could then fly from Rome to Madrid and then take the high-speed train from Madrid to Barcelona for your outbound flight. I’d save Lisbon for a future trip, as you will already be rushing to do all of this in 36 days. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions. -Roger

Bill says:

I sent you a message earlier. But I think we have narrowed down our trip to four cities. London-Paris-Barcelona-Rome.

Can you give me an idea of minimum time to do this and a good travel plan between them? Do you like these four cities? I think we are going to have to skip Amsterdam and possibly Venice on this trip. Thank you!!



    I deleted your other message and we’ll just concentrate on this now. My strong recommendation is to spend 3 nights in each city you visit, and 4 nights is even better in large cities such as London or Paris. I would start in London and spend 3 or 4 nights there, and then take the Eurostar train to Paris. Then you can take a high-speed train to Barcelona in about 6.5 hours. You could fly from Paris to Barcelona and it would take about the same amount of time when you factor in airport transportation and security lines and whatnot, but the train is far more pleasant and more comfortable.

    Unfortunately, the trains that run along the southern coast of France are quite slow, so a train would take a full day to reach Rome. In other words, it’s best to fly from Barcelona to Rome. These are definitely 4 of Europe’s most interesting cities and I’m sure you’ll have an amazing trip. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Tyra says:

Oh my goodness, I am so happy to find your blog! It is so much more helpful than other ones I have found. My husband and I will be going to Europe and UK for 2 weeks in Sept. We have been to London and some of the UK but not anywhere else. We are considering landing in London for a night to see a show in the west end (bucket list item we missed before.) Maybe go to York for a few days or southern England to see some places like Dover castle, Canterbury/Rye/Bodium castle?? not sure if it would be better to skip those and do more in other countries? Love exploring the really old sections/cities/castles etc more than just museums I’m not sure what is most feasible: Amsterdam, Bruges, Paris, Rome, Venice Amalfi coast or someplace else? In the past, we did 3-4 days min in London and Edinburgh and did day trips from there. We loved using Airbnb type sites finding cool flats in historic areas in each city to get more of a feel of living in history. Any suggestions? It is so hard to narrow it all down!!! So many fabulous places. thanks!



    Since you’ve already been to London and elsewhere in the UK, I think it should be a high priority to see the Continent. York and those other places you mentioned are all nice, but they will remind you a LOT of things you’ve already seen, while almost anything you see in France or Italy would be totally different. If you have two weeks and you want to spend a day or two in London that gives you about 12 days to work with. You should definitely take the Eurostar train from London to Paris and spend 3 or 4 days there. It absolutely lives up to the hype. With 8 or 9 days remaining you could either fly to Venice and then take trains down to Florence and then Rome, or you could take the train from Paris to Amsterdam for 3 days and then fly from there to Rome and see as much of Italy as you can in your remaining days.

    I strongly suggest spending 3 nights in any city you visit for the first time, although Venice is small enough (and so crowded) that 1 or 2 days works better there. I’m sure if you do most or all of the cities I’ve mentioned you’ll have an amazing time. Just in case you are concerned about the language situation, you don’t need to be. In Amsterdam people speak fluent English and you don’t even have to ask first. In Paris and also those main tourist cities in Italy you’ll find that pretty much everyone you encounter (hotel desk people, wait staff at restaurants, museum ticket people) speak English to at least half the people they deal with.

    Airbnbs in Europe are kind of hit or miss. In the larger cities such as London and Paris, you’ll find many apartments listed, but almost all of them are tucked into residential areas that aren’t walking distance to anything. And if you DO find a rental that is in a convenient tourist neighborhood, they usually charge a fortune because demand is so high. On slower trips where you want to shop at supermarkets and do some of your own cooking, those more remote rentals can be really fun. But if you are only in a city for 3 days or so and want to see the main sights, I think it’s better to make sure you are in a central area, even if it means staying in a hotel. In Paris I highly recommend the neighborhood known as Rue Cler, which is a small village-type area right next to the Eiffel Tower park. It’s close to the main sights and yet it feels like a small town.

    I’m happy to help more if you have other questions. -Roger

Rosie says:

I’m so happy I’ve found this website. It is very informative and helpful for first time Europe traveler like me.

I will definitely visit these 5 cities but not sure how I should order it. I will be coming from US to Heathrow and go back to US from Heathrow, for 20 days. I would also like to add Lourdes, France, Scotland and Germany in my itinerary. Would you recommend them? If so, would you please help me plan the best route and maximize my time? Thank you for your help!



    One of my strong recommendations is to plan 3 nights in almost any European city you visit. Of the 5 I mention in this article I would say 3 nights would be a minimum for all of them except for Venice, which is small enough that seeing it in about 24 hours is quite efficient if you are in a hurry. With that in mind you would be up to 13 days these 5 cities, and if you are going to Rome and Venice then stopping for at least two nights in Florence (in between the other two) is a wise use of your time. If you do that you are up to 15 days.

    With the remaining 5 days you could stop in two of those three places you mention, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to fit all of them in. Even if you skipped Florence, it’s really hard to see “Germany” in a few days. The first place I would recommend in Germany was Berlin for at least 3 nights, and you’d have to fly in and out. I’d save Germany for a future trip.

    As for Scotland, the best introduction to it is Edinburgh, which can be reached by train from London in about 4.5 hours. Two days there might be enough, but three would be better. You could then fly from Edinburgh to Amsterdam for 3 days and then take the 3.5-hour train ride from Amsterdam to Paris. From Paris it’s about a 5 hour train ride to Lourdes. You could spend a couple days there and then fly from their small airport to Milan and then take the train from there to Venice. After 24 hours or so in Venice you could take the short train ride to Florence for 3 days and then to Rome for your final 3 days. You could then fly from Rome back to London, but you have to be careful booking that because most of the cheaper flights fly into the airports other than Heathrow. It’s probably best to pay more for a flight from Rome into Heathrow as opposed to flying into another airport and then getting ground transportation to Heathrow. That is your most efficient route. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Rosie says:

Thanks sooo much Roger for the quick reply and your suggestions, greatly appreciated!

monique says:

Please help me to plan my trip from Atlanta. should i fly in Paris or london,? London might be cheaper to flying. In two week a must is Paris ,London, Italy and German. I am trave a group of 5 people including my Mother whom is 78 years old and love to travel by train.
thank you very much



    The ideal plan is to fly into London or Paris and then fly out of the other, or another city you are visiting. But in most cases (although not all) it’s much more expensive to fly into one European city and out of another. As you may know, you can get between London and Paris on the Eurostar train, which takes a bit over two hours. It’s worth checking the cost of flying into London and out of Rome, for example.

    My strong recommendation is to plan for 3 nights in just about any European city you visit, and in the case of cities like London or Paris, four nights is actually better. So if you have two weeks you should probably be thinking about visiting 5 cities at the most. The main reason is that even if you take a train from one city to another, it still takes most of the middle of the day to get from your hotel in one city until you are checked into a hotel in another city. Even taking the Eurostar from London, if you check out of your hotel at 10am, you won’t be checked into your hotel in Paris until 3pm or so, and by then most of the sightseeing day is gone. If you change cities every other day it will mean only sightseeing every other day, and spending half your trip on trains and in train stations.

    It’s also easier to plan a trip when you think in terms of cities rather than countries. If you spend 3 nights in London and 3 nights in Paris, you’d have 8 days left. If you want to see Berlin and Munich it would take most of that 8 days, especially as they aren’t very close to Paris. If you want to include “Italy” I would recommend what they call the “Big 3”. You could fly from Paris to Venice and spend a day or two there (Venice is quite small and also crowded). Then take the train down to Florence for 3 nights and then another short train ride to Rome for 3 nights. That would be an excellent trip and you could save Germany for another trip.

    The trains are easy and convenient in Europe and your mother should have an easy time of it, as long as she can still walk a few hundred yards here and there. I’m happy to help more if you have other questions, so let me know. -Roger

Lyndsey says:

I am thrilled to have discovered this webpage. I am in need of some travel guidance. I am planning a trip for 2-3 weeks this coming June to Europe with my 11 year old daughter. I would love any advice on itineraries you would recommend.

We have taken many extended “road trip” type vacations across the US so she is well versed in being a traveler, although I do understand that the US is more familiar to her and less “exotic” than Europe will be.

We both love nature and being active so hiking, walking, biking, etc are always welcome. Neither of us care much for art museums (I’ll go but don’t want to spend all day) so we don’t need to spend a lot of time on that. I would prefer to travel by train or drive myself if it’s cost effective and safe. W are hobby photographers and often spend hours wandering around taking pictures. We are interested in history, science, and both enjoy food from all over, but we are both vegetarian so this adds a little challenge.

I was thinking of doing a train or self drive tour starting from London and going all over the U.K. as Scotland is on my bucket list, but a friend said since this is her first trip (I studied abroad in Spain years ago) we’d be better if on a multi-country trip to give her the opportunity to see as much as she can. We plan to travel every summer together as long as she is still willing to hang with her old mom. Out budget for this trip is $4000-$5000 not including airfare or spending money.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!




    This sounds like a wonderful opportunity for an unforgettable trip. I agree with your friend that a multi-country trip would have more impact and contain more highlights. For one thing, driving around Britain is not nearly as nice as driving around the US, or even as nice as driving around Ireland. You’d end up spending most of your time on the motorways (freeways), and driving on the left can be stressful in traffic until you get used to it. So my recommendation would definitely be to do a train trip, as it’s almost stress-free and the views out of the train windows are often pretty amazing as well.

    I’d start out in London and spend 3 or 4 days there and then take the Eurostar train to Paris to spend 3 or 4 nights there. That still gives you one to two weeks to cover as much ground as you’d like. By the way, I’m similar when it comes to art museums in that I usually enjoy seeing them for an hour or so, but after that I get bored fast. On the other hand, many of Europe’s best museums are a pretty amazing experience when you add in the building and the history and such, including the British Museum in London, the Louvre and Paris, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, just to name a few.

    After Paris you could take a 3-hour train ride up to Amsterdam for 3 days and then fly somewhere from there, or you could then take a train to Berlin and then to Prague and perhaps Munich after that. It’s really all about which cities appeal to you most. The most popular place to visit in Europe for foreigners is Italy, and it’s popular for a reason. The shortest trip I recommend is one night in Venice, three nights in Florence, and three nights in Rome. Your budget should be fine for any of these options. It’s also worth mentioning that all of the places I have mentioned are quite a bit easier for English speakers than Spain is. Even Paris is quite easy for English speakers, and Italy is as well, as long as you stick to the more popular destinations.

    The best and cheapest way to get around is to plan your full itinerary in advance, and then buy all of your train tickets and flights as early as possible. The fares are surprisingly cheap if you buy at least a month or two in advance, and really the earlier the better. I’m happy to help more once you decide which cities interest you most. -Roger

Glen says:

Hey Roger, enjoying all the great info here! What would you suggest for a first time European traveler with 3-4 nights? Some of my ideas are London, Paris, Munich or Venice. Thanks so much!



    I’m happy that you’ve found this helpful. Your main challenge is that you are only able to stay 3 or 4 nights. My strong recommendation is to spend 3 nights in just about any city you visit, as that gives you two full sightseeing days before your next travel day. If you possible can I would fly into London and spend 3 nights there before taking the Eurostar train to Paris for 3 more nights, and then flying home from there or taking the train back to London and flying home from there. If you can do 5 nights I would still visit both of those cities. The Eurostar only takes a bit over 2 hours to get between them, so you can still do some sightseeing on travel day.

    If you only have 3 or 4 nights I would choose London OR Paris and spend your time there. London is easier for most people because of the language situation, but Paris is still quite easy even if you only speak English, and I think Paris is the more dramatic of the two. In other words, if I had to pick one I would go to Paris. Venice is a stunning place but it’s far from the others so getting in and out would be time consuming and a bit expensive. Munich is the kind of city that many people want to move to after they visit because it’s a pleasant place, but in my opinion it’s a second-tier destination compared to the others, especially for a first visit. I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Ceasar says:

Hi Roger,
Appreciate all the great info here. I am planning a solo backpacking trip to Europe for 17 days in May. (I have been to UK before, so will skip that). This is my plan –

Day 1 (Afternoon) – Land in Amsterdam
Day2 & 3 – Explore Amsterdam
Day 4 (Morning) – Train to Brussels from Amsterdam – Explore Brussels for 6 hrs
Day 4 (Evening) – Train to Paris from Brussels
Day 5, 6 & 7 – Explore Paris
Day 8 (Morning) – Train to Nice
Day 9 & 10 – Explore Nice, Monaco, Cannes
Day 11 (Morning) – Train to Venice from Nice
Day 12 (Evening) – Train to Florence from Venice
Day 13 – Explore Florence
Day 14 (Evening) – Train to Rome from Florence
Day 15, 16 & 17 – Explore Rome
Day 17 (Night) – Flight from Rome

1. Is this plan doable or will it get too hectic? I am a first-time traveler and would like to spend some time visiting Museums and experience local culture.
2. What would you recommend out of Paris-Nice-Venice & Paris-Interlaken-Lucernce-Venice? Also can look to substitute Nice for anything else that is more interesting and fits into the schedule – Vienna-Salzburg maybe?
3. Are there any must-see day trips that I can add to this schedule?

Looking forward to your suggestions. Thanks in advance!



    Your plan looks very good. I’m sure you’ll be quite exhausted towards the end of it, but you’ll have an excellent time and I don’t see any places that you are giving way too little time in.

    Nice is a really nice coastal city and Monaco in particular is amazing to see in person, but I’d say Interlaken offers far more dramatic scenery that will be unlike anything else you’ve done. Switzerland is more expensive, but for at least a few days it’s worth it and those mountain views in the Interlaken area are unforgettable. I’d do Switzerland over Austria as well, although I like all of those places.

    I can’t think of any day trips that you wouldn’t want to miss. The main attractions in all of these cities are in or near the city centers, so on shorter visits like this it’s usually better to focus your attention there. I think your plan looks fantastic, and if you can swing Interlaken I would do that instead of Nice. It’s also much faster to get the train from Interlaken to Venice than from Nice to Venice, because those trains in southern France and across Italy are still pretty slow. -Roger

Ceasar says:

Thanks a lot, Roger! Appreciate your suggestions.

Elizabeth Tan says:

Your site is awesome!
My husband and I are planning a tour of Europe for the first time in late May up to mid-June, probably 2-3 weeks duration. Can you suggest places to visit and an itinerary suitable for a senior with walking difficulty. We are flying to Europe from the Philippines. We need to spare 2-3 days in Nimes for a relative’s wedding and a few days visit to a niece in Menton. Other than that, we’re free to roam. Is Europe a friendly place for PWDs?

Thank you.

im flying from the Philippines to Nice to visit a niece in Menton and we have to attend a relative’s wedding in Nimes so we have to allocate at least 2-3 days there. Also



    I’m glad you like the site. The good news is that most major cities in Europe are fairly easy for those with mobility issues. Most of the major cities are flat and have very good public transport, although not so much in Italy compared to the others. I would highly recommend Paris, obviously, because it’s mostly flat and there are Metro (subway) stations every few blocks, so you are never much of a walk from anything. Many of the busy Metro stations also have elevators, but not all of them.

    Amsterdam is totally flat and they have a tram system at street level with stops every 100 meters or so, and the city is fairly compact to begin with. Bruges is another city near there that is also flat, and quite lovely. I’d recommend 3 or 4 nights in Paris and 3 nights in Amsterdam, as well as 2 or 3 nights in Bruges. You could even stop in Brussels for an afternoon on the way there or back and visit the historic city center, which is also flat.

    When you add in your visits to Nimes and Menton, you are already at or over 2 weeks. If Germany interests you then you could stop for a day or two in Cologne, which is also flat and very compact, and on the way between Paris and Amsterdam. Barcelona is another very interesting city that is mostly flat and has good public transport. Also, in all of these cities there are taxis that aren’t too expensive as well, so you could get door to door service to most places. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Karen says:

Greetings Roger,

My family and I will be traveling to Spain, Portugal, and Morocco in late July for two weeks. Any suggestions on family friendly neighborhoods to stay at and how many days to stay in each country? Also what mode of transportation would you recommend between Spain and Portugal? We are coming from USA and weren’t sure which country to begin with as well.

Thank you in advance for your help.




    I prefer to think in terms of cities rather than countries when I am planning an itinerary, and I highly recommend staying 3 nights in almost any city you visit. The shortest visit to Spain that I’d recommend is 3 nights in Barcelona and 3 nights in Madrid, but if you want to go to Morocco you can also add one or two nights in one of the cities where the ferries leave from. Tarifa is the closest and most charming, although you could also go from Gibraltar or Algeciras. For a quick visit to Morocco I’d recommend taking the ferry over and then after a short visit through Tangier you can take a train to Marrakech for 3 days. From there it might be best to fly to Lisbon, probably from Casablanca, because the only trains from Spain to Lisbon are overnight trains and it’s not a great experience. Lisbon is really nice and quite different from Spain and Morocco, so it’s a bit of a shame that flying in and out is the best option.

    I’m happy to help with more advice if you need it so feel free to ask other questions. -Roger

Felix says:

Hi Roger,

Love this website! It has so much helpful information! I’m planning a 18 day trip to Europe (going for first time) in May. I’m planning to visit London, Amsterdam, Prague, Venice, Rome, Interlaken/Gimmelwald, and Paris. Could you let me know if my planned schedule below works okay or if you have any other suggestions to make the trip more efficient? I know that Prague is kind of far away from the other cities but I have heard it is absolutely beautiful there and would love to see it on this trip.

Los Angeles to London (spend 3 days)
Train from London to Amsterdam (spend 2 days)
Fly from Amsterdam to Prague (2 days)
Fly from Prague to Venice (1 day)
Train from Venice to Rome (3 days)
Train from Rome to Interlaken (2 days)
Train from Interlaken to Paris (3 days)
Fly back to Los Angeles from Paris

Thank you,



    Your plan looks pretty good, although you’ll be moving quicker than I’d recommend. Prague is indeed beautiful and very worthwhile. Still I think I’d probably save it for a future trip because if you did save it you could spend another day in Amsterdam (probably even more beautiful) and one more day in the Interlaken area, without having to fly. You could go London to Amsterdam to Interlaken (that’s a long train trip so flying to Zurich might be better) and then the train to Venice and to Rome. Then you’d have to fly to Paris because it’s much faster and also cheaper. If you did Paris between London and Amsterdam you could fly home from Rome or fly from Rome to Paris or London for your flight home.

    All of that said, your version could work as well and if you don’t mind the quick visit to Amsterdam and to Interlaken I’m sure it would be enjoyable. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Emily says:

My fiance and I would like to do a backpack trip through Europe in October for our honeymoon. We will have 14 days. Can you recommend an itinerary for us please? We like to eat, drink, be adventurous, and some sightseeing, of course! Would like to relax a bit as well. Thank you!



    I’ll be happy to give you some personal help, but I’d prefer it if you got yourself started with your main preferences and we can build off that. I have another longer article about first-time Europe itinerary suggestions, and that gives 9 sample itineraries depending on your own tastes. For example, if you are sure you want to visit Paris and London then building around that is easy. Or if you are sure you want to spend a week in Italy then it’s also easy to put out suggestions on where to go from there. So have a look at that and give me a bit more info, and I’ll be happy to help more. -Roger

Janet says:

Hi Roger,

My husband and I have two teenage kids (daughter 15 and son 17). We want to go to Europe and only have 14 days. We are traveling from US and have never been to Europe. What is your suggested travel itinerary, order of travel and number of days we should spend in each. We are a bit overwhelmed with the travel plan and do not know where to start. Also, if you can let us know how we should get to one city to the other (land, air, rail)
Thank you. Janet



    I’m glad you found this article. After getting many questions like this I wrote a more recent article that actually will answer most of your questions about Europe first-time visitor itineraries. It’s definitely overwhelming planning the first trip, and I think that article will help a lot. It should get you started in choosing some destinations, and I’m happy to help with more specifics once you have some basics decided upon. Feel free to ask more questions under that one. -Roger

Nancy says:

Hi Roger, My Husband and I our planning our first trip to Europe to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary, we are travelling from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. We will have 23 days to get to and from Europe and spend time in Europe. We are going to be travelling there Mid September to early October, as I love the fall. I have been reading your articles and your suggestions for other travelers to Europe and have found them all very helpful.

First, I would like to ask you is the best way to get a good price on travelling into Europe from Canada into one City and the leaving Europe from another as I feel this allows us to use our time better seeing new places.

Secondly, I was also wondering if it is too ambitious to do a trip seeing the following areas of Europe in the time we have We would like to spend some time in Ireland, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Switzerland (Interlaken for sure possibly Lucern) and Italy (Venice, Florence and Rome). I understand your suggestion on staying about 3 nights in the bigger cities to see the sights. I also really think I would like the train ride from Switzerland to Venice as it would be beautiful in the fall even though it is just under 7 hours long.

Thirdly, I was thinking we could fly into Dublin and then out of Rome.

Really interested to hear your recomendations.



    Getting a good fare on an “open-jaw” ticket over the Atlantic is tough, but I agree with you that it’s an optimal way to do it if you can. Obviously you can use sites like to check the fares by selecting “Multi-city” instead of Round-trip or One-way. You might just luck into the right combination of airlines that actually does one-way fares as half the price of a round-trip. The other thing you might try is see if you can get a cheap round-trip from Winnipeg into JFK in New York. Norwegian Air flies to many European cities from JFK and they not only have cheap fares and pretty good service, but their fares are generally priced as one-ways. They don’t fly directly from JFK to every city but they fly into enough of them that it might work for you.

    Nearly all flights from the US or Canada to Europe go overnight, arriving in the morning, so since you lose that night you’ll have 22 total nights in Europe. If you did 3 nights in London, Paris, and Amsterdam that’s 9, and 3 more in Switzerland gets you to 12. The fastest trip to Italy that I recommend is one night (hopefully 24 hours) in Venice and 3 nights in Florence and 3 nights in Rome. If you did that trip it would leave you 3 nights in Ireland. Coincidentally enough I just discussed “3 days in Ireland” in another comment under another article about an hour ago, and I’ll quote myself here

    “Ireland is a tricky one for a short visit. Personally, I find Dublin itself to be a bit disappointing compared to most other major European capitals, but the smaller towns and countryside and castles and whatnot are wonderful. So with only 3 nights you’d probably want to just stay in Dublin (which is definitely interesting), or perhaps fly into Shannon Airport and go to Galway for the three days, which would also be enough time to visit the Cliffs of Moher and even Aran Island. If you have Irish family you might instead want to visit wherever they are from.”

    In other words, Dublin is the easiest place to visit in just 3 days, but I think Galway and/or the countryside is much better. If you have an Ireland itinerary already in mind then great.

    Flying into Dublin and out of Rome would be ideal and you might just find a good fare. If not you can look into a round-trip into Dublin and then a one-way from Rome to Dublin shortly before your flight home. Chances are that will be cheaper than the other options. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Nancy says:


Thank you so much for your suggestions about the options for flights out of and back into Canada. I will definitely look into them. I was so excited on your response to my proposed plan because it will allow us to see what we both would be really interested in on our first adventure in Europe. I am sure I will have some questions for you about the rail options for travel around Europe as I briefly looked at them and was a tad overwhelming on first glance. Do you have a section you have already done on the rail system that I could read over as your other overviews have been so very helpful. Top priority for me now is to solidify flights into and out of Europe, thanks again,



    I know how overwhelming planning a trip like this can be, and I’m happy to help as it draws nearer. As for the rail system, I do have an article on buying European train tickets in advance to save money. The short version of that article is that most train tickets in Europe go on sale 3 to 4 months ahead of time, and they start at low prices. The fares go up as more seats are sold, and they tend to be extremely expensive if you buy on travel day, so buying online as early as possible is the best and cheapest way to do it. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Ankur Luhadia says:

Hi Roger
Thanks for your wonderful blogs. Everything is worth reading here. We are couple in early 30’s and planning our first trip to London & Europe for 18 days from Aug 15th to Sep 3rd (I hope weather is good everywhere, we hate winters ) starting from London. We will fly from New Delhi (my home) to London and spend 3 nights and remaining 15 days is for Europe. We have shortlisted few countries and request your support in drafting route to follow (cheapest mode via flight/train/bus) with suggested number of days/nights in each country/city. Like all, we are also on budget trip and would like to save wherever we can. We are more interested in sightseeing and would like to explore new places. I know 15 days is not good enough for seeing everything in Europe and we have to revisit Europe again in future. So, here are the countries/cities I have shortlisted. Request your help:


Few pointers
1. I don’t know anything about Germany and also don’t know is it worth visiting in our first trip. If you suggest dropping Germany, I don’t mind and use nights in any other worth visiting place.
2. As of now, I have kept Paris as base location to fly back to New Delhi (low flight cost) so obviously, this will be last location of my trip
3. Any other useful tips/things to check before we visit would be helpful.



    The comment system holds comments from first-time commenters in “moderation” where they don’t appear on the site until I’ve approved them. That keeps spam comments from appearing. Any future comments will appear right away after I’ve approved the first one.

    Your plan sounds really good. With 15 days to spend after London I will suggest choosing 5 cities to visit in those 15 days, and really 3 nights is the ideal length of stay even on a trip where you are trying to see as much as possible because it allows two full sightseeing days in each city and then one day in transit. And if your last stop is Paris we now have the 12 middle days to work with. The shortest and fastest Italy trip that I would recommend would be 3 nights in Rome, 2 nights in Florence, and 1 night in Venice, but really 3 nights in Florence is better and worthwhile. Venice is small enough (and so crowded) that a one-day visit is enough for those in a hurry.

    As mentioned in the article above, I really think Amsterdam is an excellent stop for a first-time visit to Europe. If Germany isn’t at the top of your list you are not alone. That said, Berlin is really wonderful and Munich is nice as well, although I don’t think you’ll have time for both or maybe either of them. One way of doing this that would be filled with highlights would be 3 days in London and then the new Eurostar train service to Amsterdam. Then fly from Amsterdam to Rome for 3 days and then a train to Florence for 2 or 3 days and then a train to Venice for 1 day and then a gorgeous train ride through the Alps to Interlaken for 2 or 3 days and then a train to Paris for your final 3 days. You could see Prague, Germany, and Austria on a future trip. Amsterdam has similarities with Germany and Switzerland has similarities with Austria, so you’ll be getting a taste of those even on this itinerary.

    If you have different priorities you could obviously choose different cities, but on the above version it covers all 5 of what I consider the 5 great cities for first-time visitors and adds Florence and Interlaken as well, which are also both excellent. I’m happy to help more if you have other questions. -Roger

Sebastian Ng says:

Hello Roger, I really enjoyed your content, it really gives the community great insight on Europe! I need some help with regards to itinerary planning as this is my first time to Europe. I am going for a 17 days trip and will arrive in Amsterdam first, while my final city will be London before heading back home to Singapore.

I have a few must-visit cities which are Amsterdam, Paris, Glasgow (to visit a friend), and London. I am thinking of slotting in Brussels/Bruges, or Madrid/Barcelona but I am worried that I will spend most of my time traveling, leaving little time to visit the sights. I am open to visiting other cities/countries too!

The current plan is to head to Amsterdam -> Belgium (if time permits) -> Paris -> Madrid/Barcelona (if time permits) -> Glasgow -> London. Thinking of allocating 3-4 nights in Amsterdam, 3-4 nights in Paris, 3 nights in Glasgow (is it too much?), and 3 nights in London.

Do you have any recommendation on how to fine tune this itinerary? Thank you!!




    If you are going for 17 days I would recommend choosing no more than 6 cities to visit, and you are right that if you try to visit too many places you’ll end up spending half of your trip going between places. Madrid and Barcelona are both huge and very interesting cities that are very different from each other. I’d recommend spending 3 days in each, but they are only a bit over two hours apart by high-speed rail so you could visit them both in 4 or 5 days if you were in a hurry.

    As for Glasgow, it’s quite a nice city, but it doesn’t have many major attractions. But Glasgow is only about an hour by train from Edinburgh, which really is packed with interesting sights so you could spend a day or two there. Since you are visiting a friend there you really have to decide how long you want to spend there based on that. If the friend only has one evening to spend with you then you could enjoy Glasgow in only a day or two, but if it’s more than that then 3 days sounds ideal.

    My first thought is that I’d probably save Spain for a future trip. As mentioned, if you just rushed between the two biggest cities you’d only get a superficial glimpse of the country, and there is so much more to see. If you did that you could do 3 days in Amsterdam then 2 days in Bruges (including an afternoon in Brussels) and then 3 days in Paris and then the rest in Glasgow and London. But if you have a higher priority for a quick Spain visit then you could cut out Belgium and limit time in Glasgow. Again, this is more of a personal decision on your part. I’m happy to help more once you’ve narrowed it down to the version that appeals to you most. -Roger

J says:

Hi Roger, thanks for this informative post. It’s my first time to Europe and I’m planning a 38 day trip(including 2 fly-in, fly-out days) from Australia in September. I could really use some direction. Based on the above, I know London and Paris are locked in(maybe 4 days each, and probably Amsterdam too for roughly 3 days, as it’s close and convenient). Where it gets tricky is I’m not sure which region to focus on after these.

Based on the above guide, I’d be heading to Italy(and will try to visit Switzerland along the way). However, this would be cutting all the way to the south of the continent – is it better to focus on closer regions first?

The other route would be to go east for Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest etc. Seems slightly closer, but I could also save this region for a future east Europe trip?

Or, to go south-west for more of France, then Barcelona, Madrid(and also try to visit Switzerland on this route)?

Lastly, to just stay north for rest of the UK, and possibly Hamburg, Copenhagen etc?.

I know 36 days is longer than most users here, but I know it’s also not realistic to fit everything in, and everyone suggests to focus on one region etc. I also know you don’t plan itineraries from scratch, so just wanted to ask if you could provide a brief opinion about travelling to each region if you were in my position.

Any advice would be much appreciated, thanks!



    This sounds like a great trip and I believe you are thinking about it the right way. With 36 days on the ground you’ll probably want to do about 10 to 12 total cities, especially if you are wisely spending 4 nights in London and Paris. If you figure 11 days for London, Paris, and Amsterdam you have 25 days left. If you allowed about 9 days for Italy you’d be down to 16 left. With those 16 days you don’t have enough time to give justice to the Nordic region AND Spain AND eastern Europe, so I would just choose one of those and save the others for a future trip. I’d also allocate another 3 to 6 days for France not including Paris, partly because you’ll probably be going through it anyway. Nice is an obvious highlight, but there are plenty other places to consider.

    Hamburg is nice but it’s not as memorable as most of the others, unless you are a hardcore Beatles fan. I love Copenhagen and Stockholm, but those places are very expensive and quite remote so I’d save them. So in my opinion I’d either choose Berlin, Prague, and Budapest or Cesky Krumlov, OR do Madrid, Barcelona, and at least one other Spanish city. Both of those routes would be filled with highlights, and they are very different from each other. Spain is more about relaxing for most people while those other cities are more about culture, but of course on a long trip like this it might be nice to relax in Spain for 6 to 9 days rather than hustle through more big cities. In my younger days I appreciated Berlin and Prague more, but now that I’m a bit older I’m partial to Spain, if that helps at all. I’m happy to help more so let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

J says:

Thanks for the quick reply Roger!

Ok thanks for the suggestion, Copenhagen/Stockholm(Scandinavian region) will be saved for a later trip.

Again, as much as I wish I could do it all, it seems that more efficient to stick to 1 region/direction, which is why I’m still not sure. Based on more research and your suggestions to other users, I think my revised options are(in no particular order):

1. UK and Central – Edinburgh, Dublin, London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Bruges, Paris, Nice, Lucern, Interlaken, possibly 1 more city

2. London to Italy – London, Amsterdam, Bruges, Brussels, Paris, Nice, Lucern, Interlaken, Rome, Florence, Venice.

3. London to Spain/Portugal – London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Bruges, Paris, Lucern, Interlaken, Nice, Barcelona, Madrid, and probably inclined to go to Lisbon too(although I feel Spain, Portugal and Morocco could also be a seperate trip in itself)

4. London to East Europe – London, Paris, Bruges, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Prague, Cesky Krumlov, Vienna, Budapest(although like Spain/Portugal, I feel Eastern could be a seperate trip in itself).

Nothing set in stone in terms of cities, just a broad idea of the directions/regions to limit myself to. What’s your general preference/opinion on the 4 plans/directions above, for a first timer like myself?

Apologies for repeatedly asking the same questions!



    No problem asking again, and this makes it more clear. Of those choices for a first-time visitor I think I’d go with London to Italy because it contains what I consider to be almost ALL of Europe’s top highlights on one trip. Not only do you have all 5 of what I consider to be Europe’s 5 Great Cities for first-time visitors, but you’ve got Switzerland in there, which gives you Europe’s best natural beauty. You also have a lot of diversity among your choices as you are sort of going diagonally south through the continent.

    I’m not a huge Brussels fan and I usually only recommend people spend an afternoon there, and you could still do that, which could give you time for another Britain stop or somewhere else. Honestly, any of your itineraries will be loaded with highlights and you haven’t got a single “dud” city on any of your lists. For example, I consider Frankfurt, Sofia, Belgrade, and Zagreb to be pleasant but pretty forgettable compared to the others. As always, I’m happy to ask other questions if they come up. -Roger

J says:

Again, thanks for the quick reply Roger!

Thanks also for the direction – looks like option 2 it is. If I stop by Brussels for an afternoon, should I still stay in Bruges for 1 night, or 2 nights? As for the other stop you mentioned, would you recommend somewhere like Dublin or Edinburgh for another Britain stop? Or perhaps Luxembourg which looks to be on the way?

Also more specific to Switzerland, would you recommend visiting other cities instead of Lucerne and Interlaken? I see many people also recommending Geneva, Zermatt(for Matterhorn), and even Bern(it’s in the middle of the country, so will be easy for taking day trips out to see other cities). With a timeframe of 6 nights in mind, do you have any suggestions on this?



    I’d stay in Bruges for 2 nights if you have the time. In Brussels it’s worth exploring the area around the Grand Place (central square) for a few hours, and you can take a look at the Manneken Pis a couple blocks away. That area is one of the most impressive public squares in Europe, but aside from that I find Brussels to be kind of generic, dull, and expensive. Bruges will remind you of Amsterdam, but much more gentle and more traditional. As for Britain, Edinburgh is the most popular and most impressive second stop, and it’s worth a look if you can get an affordable train ticket by buying in advance. But if you have to then go all the way back to London for your next stop, I’m not sure it’s worth it. Bath and York are two other cool places to consider that are easier to return to London from. Dublin, which of course is on another island so it’s not in Britain, would be too much trouble to reach for a short visit. It’s a cool city, but I really prefer the Irish countryside and smaller towns, so if I were you I’d save Ireland for a future trip.

    In Switzerland you might add one day or so in Bern, which is the most beautiful and most interesting of the cities. Geneva is pretty dull, aside from its lakeside location, and you can appreciate that on the train rolling through. I’d do 3 or 4 nights in Interlaken (perhaps with a day trip to Bern) or 1 day in Bern and 2 days in Lucerne. Zermatt has those dramatic Matterhorn views, but there isn’t much else there and it’s quite out of the way compared to Interlaken and Lucerne. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

J says:

Sorry for the slow reply Roger, needed some time to think this over.

To clarify:

1. For Switzerland, I should spend 6 days there, and do either: 3 or 4 nights in Interlaken + 1 night or 1 daytrip in Bern + 2 days in Lucern? Am I reading the comment correctly?

2. Regarding the other cities in the UK/British Isles, Ireland will be a future trip. As for Edinburgh, it’s also too far.
However, thinking it over, I could potentially fly in there as my first destination. Would you recommend doing this – flying into Edinburgh and using the remaining 6-9 days I have to explore that and more of UK/France? On the flip side, if those cities are not great cities for first-timers, could I potentially use that time to try and visit Madrid and Barcelona instead?

3. Also, you mentioned previously allocating 6-9 days for France outside Paris – should I save Nice/Southern France for another trip and focus more on the areas near Paris? I’ve seen some users recommend this.

Thanks again,



    Basically, the most dramatic sights in Switzerland are around Interlaken and 3 days is enough to do the top highlights. If you have more than 3 days then adding a day or two in Lucerne and possibly a day in Bern are also great options. Switzerland is also very expensive even compared to its neighbors, so many people like to see as much as possible in a few days and then move on.

    The fast trains between London and Edinburgh take 4 hours 20 minutes each way and can be cheap if you buy them far enough in advance. If you got a flight into Edinburgh then starting there could be a good option, although it’s rare to find a flight into Edinburgh that is as cheap as flying into London. Edinburgh really is a wonderful city and it’s different enough from London to be worthwhile. Exploring more of the UK and/of France could also be good. I’d still save Spain for another trip because there is so much more to see than just the two biggest cities.

    France is a puzzle for trips like this because there are so many possible smaller and less famous places to go. Nice is the second most visited area outside of Paris, and after that it’s a big drop off to third place with all of the wine regions and Normandy and Provence and Avignon and many other small scenic towns. In other words, there are many great options within France as long as you research to find the things that interest you most. And the food all over the country is excellent, so that’s another good reason to do more France. I’m not sure how helpful I’ve been, but please feel free to ask other questions if you have them. -Roger

Anurag says:

Hey Roger,
Thanks for the amazing blog, I really loved reading it. I will be going to Europe for the first time in July and wanted to backpack across for around 18 days.
I would be starting from Karlsruhe (in Germany). I tentatively chalked up a route Karlsruhe-Budapest-Vienna-Salzburg-Venice-Florence-Milan-Karlsruhe. Would this be a good plan, or should I make changes to it?
I’m a hobby photographer and would prefer more of hiking and biking instead of visiting museums.Also, as I’m a student and would like to keep my expenses low, what mode of travel should I use?
I also wanted to know if places like Amsterdam, Antwerp, Paris are doable over a weekend or would need more time?
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks again,



    I’m glad you are finding this helpful. My brother went to university in Karlsruhe for a few years, but I only visited briefly. Your plan looks quite good, although if you’ve never been to Rome I would highly recommend going there instead of Milan, which isn’t much of a tourist city.

    Most likely it will be best to fly to Budapest. There are 3 airports within one hour by train of Karslruhe, including Frankfurt, and I’m not sure which has the cheapest flights (probably FRA). And if you go to Rome you might want to fly from there back to Karlsruhe as well. If you buy your plane tickets far enough in advance they will almost certainly be cheaper than the train and much faster, of course.

    Karlsruhe to Paris is only 2 hours 34 minutes by fast train so that is a great weekend trip. You’ll have to buy that train ticket at least a few weeks in advance to get a good fare though. Karlsruhe to Amsterdam is about 6 hours by train (and it’s a pretty dull ride) so it might be better and even cheaper to fly from Frankfurt. Amsterdam Airport has its own train station and it only takes about 20 minutes to get from there to Centraal Station, so it’s fast, cheap, and easy. You could do that over a weekend as well, and the plane ticket will be pretty cheap if you buy in advance. Antwerp will remind you a lot of Amsterdam without much nightlife. I prefer Bruges (an hour from Brussels), but all of those old cities around there are nice. Again, the key to a cheap weekend anywhere in Europe is to book your flight as early as possible. Those low fare carriers in Europe all start with low ticket prices and the price goes up as more seats are sold. Have a great time and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

madhu says:

Hi Roger,read your blog, very helpful.
My husband,Me and My two adult daughters are planning to visit Europe for a week.but we have been to London and Paris.
it would be great if you help us plan a trip to other must see cities.
we are planning to come in the second week of July.



    If you’ve been to London and Paris and you want to go for about a week I would go to Italy. You could start in Venice and spend about 24 hours there and then take a train to Florence for 3 nights and then Rome for 3 nights. Those are Italy’s “Big 3” destinations and they are very worth a visit. They will be crowded in July, but many locals will leave the cities during July so it’s not as crowded as you might fear. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Haya says:

Hi Roger, your blog is extremely helpful.
My family and I plan to visit Europe in August, our visa does not cover UK. For work we have to land in Barcelona, and then I have planned 3 days in Barcelona, 4 days in Paris, 2 for Switzerland, 2 for Germany and then 3 for Italy.
Barcelona to Paris I was thinking of travelling by air and train between the rest of the cities. I have a total of 18 days so I still have 3 days to fix somewhere, or they’ll be taken up by the travel times?
Would be great if you could help chalk out the plan for me and suggest the right transport means. Thank you!



    Your plan sounds very good, although 3 days isn’t much time in Italy so I hope you are only planning on Rome. And two days in Germany is very short as well. I’d recommend 3 days in Berlin or Munich as the shortest possible visit to the country. In fact, if you only have 18 days for this trip I’d recommend choosing exactly 6 cities to visit, rather than focusing on countries.

    You can take a train from Barcelona to Paris in about 6.5 hours, which is about the same amount of time it takes to fly between the cities when you include airport transportation and waiting time at the airport. Flying is cheaper if you buy your ticket early enough. Personally I would take the train even if it were a bit more expensive because it’s so much more pleasant. For the rest of the cities I think the train is also your best bet. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Haya says:

Thank you Roger! I chalked out this plan, please check it:

Arrival in Barcelona, 3 days
Train to Paris, 4 days
Train to Munich, 3 days
Train to Bern, 2 days to go to Interlaken and Alps
Train to Florence from Bern with a stopover at Venice for a few hours. Florence, 3 days
Train to Rome, 3 days

We’re a family of 5; 2 adults, 2 youth, 1 child, so I was checking the eurail pass. Do you think I should go for the 5 day pass? Also, will I have to buy a sim card in every country for mobile internet?
I’d be extremely grateful for any help and suggestions. Thanks again!



    Your plan looks great. The one bit of advice I’d offer is to stay in the Interlaken area rather than in Bern. You get more hotel for your money outside of the cities, and the whole area is gorgeous so it’s nice to wake up and look out your window to an amazing view. Bern is a lovely city, but it’s a very different experience than the Alps. The plan to spend a few hours in Venice is fantastic and I should suggest that to more people really.

    For the trains I’m pretty sure it will be best and cheapest just to buy your train tickets at least a month or two in advance. Rail passes can be great for longer trips where you want to make plans as you go because last-minute train tickets are very expensive. But advance train tickets tend to be cheaper than shorter rail passes, and they include seat reservations. With rail passes you’ll often need to buy a seat reservation and in France they can be very expensive. Check the train fares soon and you’ll probably see that they are cheaper than you expect, and cheaper than rail passes.

    As for SIM cards, it used to be a big mess but last year a law passes where “roaming” between European countries now has to be cheap at a fixed price. So you should be able to buy a one-month (or something like that) SIM card in Spain and it should be usable for your whole trip. Most people get by with just data these days, but if for some reason you’d need a local phone number in each country then you’d have to buy a new SIM in each country. The short-term ones tend to cost between €20 and €50, and hopefully you can get one in Spain for your whole trip. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Anoop Kumar says:

Hi Roger,
Thanks a lot for a wonderful insight into Europe especially for a first time traveller like me. We( myself, wife and our two daughters aged 2 years and the younger one, 4 months) are planning a euro trip from 27 Oct to 11 Nov this year. We’re apprehensive about the weather and any precautions that we should take for our daughters. This is going to be our first euro trip. Based on your experience, could you suggest an itinerary keeping our young daughters in mind. We would like to visit Paris, Rome, Venice,Barcelona & Amsterdam. We would have loved to add Munich and Berlin to it but the time is too short. We are keen on a slow paced relaxed holiday.



    It looks like you’ve got about 15 days in Europe and in that time I would recommend visiting 5 cities at most, especially if you’d like it to be slow paced and relaxing. You can visit Venice in a day or two, which will allow you to spend an extra day or two in another city. The five cities on your main list are all wonderful, but you’d need at least two flights in order to visit all of them. Amsterdam and Barcelona are each within a reasonable train ride of Paris, however they are remote to everything else. Flying isn’t too expensive and it’s not a huge problem, though I really think that it would be quite a bit easier with the kids on trains rather than flights.

    If you did these five cities you could go from Paris by train to Amsterdam and then fly to Barcelona from there. Then you’d have to fly to Venice (or nearby Treviso) and then take a train to Rome. Generally it’s best to spend 3 nights in each place you visit, though as I mentioned Venice is small enough to do in one or two days. I’d recommend that you save Amsterdam or Barcelona for another trip and replace it with Florence, which is in between Venice and Rome. Florence is another excellent destination, and it’s a short train ride from Venice and Rome so it makes for an easy trip within Italy.

    As far as having your daughters along, Europe is pretty good about being very family oriented with room on buses and trains to bring strollers aboard and having changing rooms in many public bathrooms (including on trains). But of course young children are usually not fans of travel, and I think flying would be more hassle than trains. The main thing is the train stations are all within the city center so you can sometimes even walk from your hotel and onto a train. The airports are obviously on the edges of town and you have to take a train and/or a bus to reach them and then deal with the security lines and all of that.

    One more option would be to just do Paris to Nice (or somewhere else in southern France) and then to Venice and Florence and Rome, doing it all by train. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Deborah says:

Hi Roger,

Me and my husband are planning a trip to Europe next year maybe around May for our 30th wedding anniversary. We are going to spend 14 days and based on your comments and suggestion I think we may follow your iternary from a previous comment:
Fly into London for 3 nights
Take a train to Amsterdam for 3 nights
Take a train to Paris for 4 nights
Fly to Venice for 2 nights
Take a train to Rome for 3 nights

My question is what documents do we need to get into each city? Passport? Visa? something else? And of course any other suggestions you may have. This is our first trip and maybe our only trip. We will be traveling from Washington DC. Thank you!



    Everyone needs a passport to leave their country and you’ll need to show it to get into the UK and then again to board the train to Amsterdam. After that you’ll be in the “Schengen Zone” and you’ll only be asked for a passport when you check into hotels. If you are from the US or Canada or Australia or most countries like that you won’t need a visa to go to Europe for 90 or fewer days.

    I think your plan looks fantastic and I’m sure you’ll love it. If you have any more time you might consider at least a short stop in Florence in between Venice and Rome, but even if you don’t you’ll be seeing the best of Italy. You are planning just the right amount of time in each city so I think you’ve done great so far. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Sandy says:

Hi Roger,
I cannot begin to Express how helpful your information has been. You are so detailed and informative, thank you! My family and I just returned from Europe from a cruise on the Baltic which was a teaser! It was amazing, I think the kids got more of a history lesson on this 10 day trip then in the entire school year! My husband and I haven’t been back to Europe in over 17 years (Spain and Portugal) while on this trip so many encouraged us to travel by land which I love this idea. My husband loves cruising but I never want to stay too long or just a day. We are planning to travel next year in August (kids are out of school) and have 15 days to work with. I would prefer to do everything by train so I’m looking to include the obvious London,Paris but add Amsterdam. I would love to see Florence, Venice is not a must, but if we could work it in it’s fine. Rome would be nice but I would like to end it with less historical (teenagers) rather start historical and end adventurous. Not sure if it makes sense. But we don’t want to back track. All cities are doable since we haven’t seen them but I don’t want to return to Spain this trip. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Roger.



    That Baltic cruise sounds fantastic. I’ve thought about those a few times before and I’m sure I’ll do one at some point. Fifteen days is pretty quick for all of those cities, but it can be done. If you want to start historical and end more fun I’d fly into Rome for 3 days and then a train to Florence for 3 days. Then it’s probably best to fly to Amsterdam because the train would take a full day and cost far more than a flight. The airport in Pisa is fairly close to Florence and it usually has cheaper fares. Then 3 days in Amsterdam and a train to Paris for 3 days and then the Eurostar to London for your last three days.

    It would be a shame to skip Venice so you could cut one day off Florence or Amsterdam and add one day in Venice, which is enough to see the highlights. Venice and nearby Treviso airports have affordable flights to Amsterdam as well. I think that is your best strategy, or something very close to that. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Priya says:

Hi Roger,

I am planning my honeymoon to Europe in late November and early December for 12 days. We are a bit confused in deciding the places that we can cover in this period. Also, we do not want to go to any city that is too chilly or rainy at that time of the year. I really want to cover Paris and Lisbon in our trip. Other choices are Spain and Italy. Could you please help us out in finalising an itinerary that would be perfect for our honeymoon? We are open to suggestions for other places apart from the ones I have mentioned.




    If you have 12 days I would choose 4 cities at most and 3 might even be better. Paris will be on the cool side, of course, but it’s rare that it gets chronic rain and I’m sure you’ll love it there in late November.

    Assuming you want to keep Paris and Lisbon on your itinerary, and both of those are great choices, I’d say the best itinerary would be Paris for 3 days and then a train (or flight) to Barcelona for 3 days. The train takes about 6.5 hours and it’s far more pleasant than flying, which takes about the same amount of time when you factor in getting to and from the airport and all that. Then you can take another train to Madrid for 3 days and then on to Lisbon for your last three days. One challenge is that Madrid to Lisbon is only reached by night train and I’m not a big fan of those, so I’d recommend flying, which will obviously be faster and probably cheaper as well. Spain and Portugal have the nicest Europe weather that time of year and those cities are all first class. It will be better to do Italy on a separate trip at another time. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Priya says:

Thanks a lot, Roger. This itinerary looks just perfect for us. I am glad that I found your blog. Have been trying to figure out a travel plan for weeks. I am happy that the search ends here 🙂 It would be great if you could recommend some must do/visit places in these cities, which we should definitely not miss? Also, would we need separate visa for each of the country (France, Spain and Portugal) we will be traveling from New Delhi, India. Thanks again for your help!:)



    I’m really glad that was helpful. I get many requests for lists of things people should do in each destination, and in most cases I hesitate to do that because I think those choices are so personal. I love to research these things before I visit a city and determine which things are most interesting and will work into my schedule the best, but I think my choices are often quite different from most people’s. For example, I really enjoy those 3-hour hop-on, hop-off bus tours as early in my trip as possible because it gives you a really nice idea of what is there and where everything is. Other people find those really cheesy.

    On the other hand, I do include admission prices for the most famous things in each city on the page on this website for that city, like on this page for Paris for example. If you Google “things to do in (city)” you’ll usually see TripAdvisor’s recommendations as the top listing. I think those are pretty reliable at least for things you should know about, although they do tend to favor some obscure tours that they get a big commission if you book through them. Using is another good place to find the top choices in each city. Have a wonderful trip.

    Oh, as for visas, all of those countries are in the Schengen Zone and there are no border checks between them, so when you are in one of them you are in all of them. Research “schengen visa” for residents of India and you should find the requirements to get into that area and you’ll be set. -Roger

Sam says:

Hi Roger, I stumbled across your site and have really enjoyed reading your suggestions for traveling in Europe. My husband and I are just starting to discuss what a trip to Europe would look like for us and would love some input on which countries to visit as we want to visit quite a few and realize it might not be a possibility to do it all.

The countries or specific cities we have interest in include: London, Paris, Italy, Santorini and Athens, Ireland. We’ve also discussed wanting to visit Germany and Spain.

We are considering a 2 week vacation. We probably wouldn’t be able to stretch it much longer than that.

Thank you so much for your help!



    I’ll be happy to try to help. If you have two weeks I would strongly suggest choosing 4 or possibly 5 cities (rather than countries) to visit. Here is why you should probably stay 3 nights in each place you visit. The short version is that every time you go from one city (let alone one country) to another, it takes most of that day.

    I think the best two-week first trip to Europe is something like this: Fly into London for 3 nights then the Eurostar train to Paris for 3 nights. Then fly to Venice for 1 or 2 nights and then a train to Florence for 3 nights and then a train to Rome for 3 nights and then back home. So I’d recommend you discuss which places interest you most and then figure out if you can string 4 or 5 of them together in two weeks so that you are mostly riding on trains a few hours rather than flying from one to another. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Priya says:


Thanks for your detailed suggestions. There is a slight change in our plan and now we would have only 8 days for our honeymoon. We would really appreciate if you could suggest whether we should do 4 days Paris and 4 days Lisbon or 3 days Paris, 2 days Barcelona and 3 Days Lisbon? Would it be a good idea to squeeze in Barcelona in our itinerary?



    This is a tough one because all of those cities are wonderful. I think 4 days in Paris and 4 in Lisbon would be the most relaxing because you’d only need two hotels instead of three and it would cut out another flight. But if you are anxious to see more of Europe then 2 or 3 days in Barcelona and 2 or 3 days in Lisbon would be really nice. All of those cities are quite different from each other, and Barcelona has more famous sights than Lisbon, but Barcelona is also more crowded and a bit more expensive. It’s really up to you and I think either of those options would be very enjoyable and worthwhile. Have a great honeymoon. -Roger

Lorraine says:

Hi Roger!

I am trying to plan a European vacation for my family (husband, son (11 at time of trip) and me). I have just started to research the trip. I’m still trying to figure out time of year (possibly April), how long to stay (10 days preferably) and where to go (??). I was hoping you could help with identifying some places that are kid friendly. I’ve read a few of the comments and your replies, so I understand the sightseeing aspect is based on preference, but perhaps you can suggest one kid friendly city over another. Thanks!



    I’ll be happy to try to help. If you are going to go for 10 days I would recommend choosing 3 cities, or possibly 4 if one of them is small (such as Venice). April is a nice month as it’s warming up enough to enjoy being outside and the crowds and hotel prices are still well down before summer begins. May is also nice, and then starting in June places get crowded and hotel rates go up.

    It’s tough to say what “kid friendly” really means, although I’ll give it a shot. From a safety perspective I would say that all of Europe is extremely safe for children. An 11-year-old can certainly get around well and walk as far as the parents, so I’m guessing you mean kid-friendly in the sense of things that he will find interesting and enjoyable? My parents took me and my brother all over Europe in our youth and I remember being very bored in art museums and most other kinds of museums, and also in gardens and even most palaces. On the other hand, I really enjoyed most bus rides and trains and metro rides, and of course I really enjoyed ice cream or gelato or desserts while my parents would stop for a cup of coffee.

    These days there are also natural history museums in most large cities and those have dinosaurs and loads of other things that kids enjoy. And there are also train museums and science and technology museums that have lots of buttons you can push and moving displays. I’d think an 11-year-old would enjoy at least some of those things. So as long as you seek a couple of them out and try not to spend too much time in art museums then I think your son will have a good time.

    Italy has a strong emphasis on classical art and also ruins, but they also have arguably the best food for kids with the gelato and pizza and pasta and such. In 10 days you could do a great trip to Italy where you’d spend 3 days in Rome, 3 days in Florence, 1 or 2 days in Venice, and maybe another short stop somewhere. That said, I think I’d recommend London and Paris and Amsterdam, with 4 days in either London or Paris. All of those cities have endless great sightseeing options that should appeal enough to adults and your son, and they are also just amazing cities in general. By the way, the Red Light District in Amsterdam is now very small and it’s very easy to avoid, especially at night, so it really won’t be an issue if you do a little homework. All those cities have really good boat rides and the kinds of museums that will appeal to kids, and great food options as well. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Ilecia says:

I am so happy I found this site and found the various comments very useful.

I am planning to attend a convention in Hamburg, Germany in June 2019 and wanted to plan to visit surrounding countries on my first visit to Europe.

I would appreciate your feedback on the noted:

London, England – 4 nights
Hamburg, Germany – 4 nights
Fly to Rome, Italy – 3 nights
Train to Florence, Italy – 2 nights
Train to Rome, Italy – 3 nights
Train to Venice, Italy – 1 night
Fly from Venice to Paris, stay in Paris, 4 nights
Fly back to New York from Paris or London?

I would appreciate you feedback on the noted.




    Your plan looks really good. I think it must be a typo because you’ve mentioned flying into Rome and then going to Florence and then going back to Rome and then going (through Florence) to Venice. If that is what you meant I wouldn’t really recommend spending 6 days in Rome and going there twice instead of adding another city. Rome is really amazing, but it’s also quite exhausting and most people are happy to be done with it after 3 days or so.

    If you can find a reasonably priced flight that flies into London and out of Paris I would do that. Usually those open-jaw flights across the Atlantic are quite expensive and it’s much cheaper to fly in and out of the same city. If that’s the case you can always take the Eurostar train between Paris and London in a bit over two hours. But to get from Paris Gare du Nord (where the Eurostar leaves from) to Heathrow Airport will take more like four hours, so make sure you research that before you book it. If you do have time for one more city you might consider Amsterdam, which is about 5.5 hours from Hamburg by train and Amsterdam has a busy airport that is easy to reach. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

RICHI says:

Hello Roger,

Really a fan of your website. Been reading from last one week and amazed by the amount of information is provided
We Indian couple are planning to do THE Europe Trip (First time) from Australia.
So at this moment our itinerary is
1. London 4 days
2. Amsterdam 2 days
3. Paris 3-4 days
4. Lucerne / Interlaken – 4 days
5. Spending 7-8 days in Italy (Basically Rome, Venice and (Florence)
6. Ending trip with spending a day or couple at Amalfi coast
7. Return to Melbourne.

Please advise and recommend any must do and must not based on your expertise.
Thank you .



    Thank you for the kind words and I’m always happy to hear that people find this useful. I think your trip looks really well planned and I think my only comment is that it would be nicer if you had a third day in Amsterdam because staying only two nights will only allow you to see a few things. Still, two days in Amsterdam is definitely worthwhile so if that is all you have I’m sure you’ll love it. You might also know that now you can take the Eurostar train from London all the way to Amsterdam, so that should work out well for you. The rest of your trip will work well with normal trains, although (except for domestic Swiss trains) it’s better to book as early as possible for the cheapest fares and best selection of departure times.

    My best recommendations for each of these cities can be found in the various pages and articles on this site. If you have any other specific questions feel free to ask. -Roger

Linda says:

Hi Roger, My daughter will be in a study abroad program just outside London. We are thinking about visiting her on Easter break (end of March beginning of April) and traveling to 2 or 3 locations. We’ll have 10-12 days. Is this a bad time to travel? We’re coming from the US and would maybe want to see London, Paris and Amsterdam.
Thank you!



    That sounds fantastic. I’m sure you are aware of London’s famous weather and you can expect it to be chilly in late March and possibly drizzly as well, but it’s rare that it really rains for more than an hour or two at a time, so it’s more like Seattle and Portland. Amsterdam has similar weather and it’s probably going to be cloudy. Paris will be a bit nicer, but still pretty chilly that time of year.

    I think keeping it at those three cities is perfect. If you can spend 3 days or so in London itself that should be enough to cover the main highlights. Then you can take a Eurostar train to either Amsterdam or Paris and then the high-speed Thalys train to the other one before taking the Eurostar back to London for your flight home. I’d recommend 3 nights in Amsterdam and 3 or 4 nights in Paris. Those three cities are each really amazing and each quite different from each other, so they make a great trip and I don’t think it would be better if you rushed around more and added another city. I’m sure you’ll have a great time and get mostly good weather. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Angie says:

Hi Roger, our family (me, husband, 3 daughters ages 22, 20 and 15) is planning a trip this June to Paris and then Italy for 10 days. Could you plan an itinerary for us please? Thanks!



    I wrote all of the suggestions in the article and beyond that I don’t normally like to recommend specific itineraries because tastes and budgets are different for everyone, but in this case it’s pretty simple so I’ll give it a shot.

    I’d spend 3 or 4 nights in Paris and then fly to Venice (or nearby Treviso Airport) for 1 or 2 nights. Venice is small enough and quite crowded so one or two days is plenty for most people. Then take a train down to Florence and I’d spend 4 nights there. You can see the main sights in Florence in 3 nights, so you could use the extra day for a day trip to Pisa (one hour each way by train) to see the Leaning Tower and Cathedral there, which really only takes about 4 or 5 hours round trip. You could even do a day trip to the Cinque Terre towns, although in June they will be very crowded.

    After Florence take a train down to Rome for the remaining days. You can enjoy Rome in 3 nights, but if you have an extra night you can do a day trip to Naples or Pompeii, or something else of your choosing. That is the best and most popular Italy itinerary for a trip around this length, but please read up on the places and change whatever you feel. I’m happy to answer other questions if you have them. -Roger

Stella Z says:

Hello Roger,

We are very lucky to have someone like you to help greater community. Your inputs are fabulous.

Here is our situation…we are flying from Sydney (Australia) and will visit family in London in start of July 2019. We are 2 adults and 2 kids ( 4 and 6yrs). We will stay in London for 2weeks and will do bit sightseeing in London in that time. Then we would like to spend 2 weeks in some other great countries/cities.

Train to Amsterdam (Netherlands) – 2 nights
Then Train to Paris (France) – 3 nights
Then train to Lucerne(Switzerland) – 3nights
Then train/fly (?) to Rome (Italy) – 3 nights

We are thinking if this plan looks ok to you esp travel with kids. Also, Can we add any more place? Or change anything from this list or number of days?

We wanted to add Greece to the list but seems tight or hectic, what you think?

If you can please share some recommendations/inputs, it will be of great help to us.



    Thank you for the nice words. Your plan looks really good. If you are interested in seeing as much as possible in those two weeks without going overboard I would recommend the following. Take that Eurostar train from London to Amsterdam and then a train down to Paris and then a train to Interlaken (or Lucerne) in Switzerland.

    From Switzerland you can take a train through the Alps (and it’s really beautiful) to Venice (with a train change in Milan). You can visit Venice in about 24 hours and then take a train to Florence for two days and then a train to Rome for your final three days. Again, that’s the fastest trip that I’d recommend, but at least most of those train rides are fairly short and quite scenic so they won’t be too much of a grind. I recently wrote an article about the best Europe destinations for families with kids, and I left Venice off because there are very few family-focused attractions there, but it is amazing to see once in person and staying 24 hours should not be too much for the young ones. Or you could skip it and go directly from Switzerland to Florence. Or you could skip Florence, although that would be a shame.

    I think a trip like this will work better than Greece. One tough thing about Greece is that you have to fly in and out of Athens because the rail connections are terrible, and then you have to fly to one of the islands or take a fairly long ferry ride there and back.

    Think about that itinerary and then customize it to suit your tastes. I’m happy to answer any other questions if you have them. -Roger

Stella Z says:

Thanks a lot for your detailed reply.

After some reading, we narrowed down about 14days trip to below cities
Bascially, due to white sand and nice beach we adding Greece.

France : Paris
Italy : Rome, Venice
Greece : Athens, Santorini

Would you mind sharing some info on rough cost (travel/accommodation/meals/activities etc) for two?
Also, some tips on how to travel (flights/train?) between my locations eg London, France, Italy and Greece? Accommodation tips?


Joanne says:

After reading this comment on your site, “Even though hotels in Venice tend to be quite expensive, the best way to visit is to spend at least one or two nights on the main island”, I have spent a great deal of time trying to determine which is the main island of Venice. Can you please clarify?



    The “main island” of Venice is the one that has St. Marks Square on it. The Grand Canal snakes through that island and it sort of looks like two islands on a map. The bridge from the mainland also has train tracks, which lead to the Venice train station, which is also on the same island, out in the middle of the lagoon. Hotels on the mainland are cheaper so it’s tempting to stay there, but Venice is so crowded with visitors from 10am until 6pm because of cruise passengers and people on bus trips and people sleeping on the mainland, that it can be frustrating. If you stay in the main Venice island itself you’ll find that there are much smaller crowds in the evenings and mornings, so those are nice times to stroll around. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

sandra says:

Hi Roger,
I found your website while searching for a trip to europe itinerary and really liked all the info…My husband and I are planning a trip to Europe for June/July 2019…He wants to go to Paris, Munich and Italy and I want to go to London, Frankfurt and Salzburg. We dont have a time limit but dont want to be exhausted…So far this is what I’ve come up with…
Fly into Frankfurt
Frankfurt 1 nite
train to Munich 3 nites
train to Salzburg 2 nites
train to venice via innsbruck 1 nite
train to florence 2 nites
train to rome 3 nites
fly to paris 4 nites
eurostar to london 4 nites
Is this itinerary doable…seems it will take us about a month….Just don’t want to be burned out at the end…we want to take our time and not be in a rush….your advice will be greatly appreciated…thanks



    I think I answered your questions on the other version, and I’m sorry I didn’t get to it sooner. One thing though, there isn’t anything interesting to see in Frankfurt aside from banks and the airport itself, so I’d take a train directly from Frankfurt Airport to Munich, which takes 3.5 hours. It might seem like a long trip after an overnight flight, but at least this way you wouldn’t have to check in and out of one more hotel. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

sandra says:

Thanks for answering both of my questions…sorry…i think we’re dropping athens and the cruise and so this itinerary….we have friends in frankfurt so therefore the stop….looking at flights into frankfurt but i think we will fly into london and fly on to frankfurt stay the night and take the train next day late afternoon to munich…
munich 3 nites
train to salzburg 2 nites
train to venice 2 nites
train to florence 2 nites
train to rome 3 nites
fly to paris 4 nites
eurostar to london 4 nites
found our hotels for each place and train schedules..etc
how does that sound???

Jay says:

Dear Roger,
Thank you for the detailed advises you shared for first timers in Europe. I am planning to go in December (for 3 weeks ‘til first week of Jan) during Christmas time. Madrid, Barcelona, Paris and Italy (Milan & Rome) are some of the places of interests for me. Do you have any particular advice on which route to take first? And the weather, would it be a good idea to travel to these cities in December. Should I get ready for a wet snowy weather in these cities? Could you give me an idea where to start (which city)? In Paris, I might go to Disneyland to savour the Christmas festive mood. Thank you in anticipation of your reply!



    I’ll be happy to try to help. Fortunately, Europe doesn’t get very wet or snowy in winter, at least in average years. You might get a bit of snow if you are unlucky and you’ll probably get some light rain and colder temperatures, especially in the northern cities, but it’s rarely a problem for visitors.

    You might have a quick look at my recommendations for the best Europe destinations in December. You are already planning to visit many of them so I think you are on the right track. Generally speaking the coldest time in Europe is middle to late January, so average temperatures will be slowly falling during your visit. In other words, it’s probably best to start in the north (Paris in your case) and then do Italy and then Spain, as Spain has the mildest winters in that group. So you could fly into Paris for 3 or 4 nights and then fly to Venice for 1 or 2 days, or Milan if you prefer (Milan isn’t a classic tourist city but if there are things you want to see there then it’s worth a visit), and then you can take the train down to Florence for a few days and then Rome for three days. Then fly from Rome to Barcelona for a few days and then take the high-speed train to Madrid.

    You have many other great options within Spain (Seville, Granada, Toledo, Valencia, Malaga) to round out your trip. Madrid is the hub for the high-speed trains to all of those other places. I’m happy to help more if you have any other questions. -Roger

Heidi says:

Hi Roger!

I am beginning to plan a trip for my family for July 2019. It will be myself, my husband, 13 year old son and 10 year old daughter. We are planning on 14 days at the most. We are thinking of flying into London, take the train to Paris. I know you said that Amsterdam was easy to get to from Paris, but what about Edinburgh? We will fly out of our last city. We are planning on using Air BNB while in London. Any specific areas we should look at? Also, what day trips do you think would be best? In Paris, we are Disney Vacation Club members, so we will probably stay there (not go to the park though). What about Amsterdam or Edinburgh for areas to stay? I am only in the beginning stages of planning, so I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.



    Edinburgh is about 4 hours 20 minutes from London on the high-speed train and it’s very worthwhile to visit if it interests you. The one challenge is that to get to mainland Europe you’d have to fly or take the train back to London and then the Eurostar train through the tunnel. But the Edinburgh Airport is large and they have good fares on flights so you could fly from there to Amsterdam.

    If you are planning 14 days at most I would choose 4 cities to base yourself in. London, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, and Paris are all great choices. You could do 4 nights each in London and Paris and 3 nights in the other two because they are both much smaller.

    The most popular day trips from London are an all-day bus tour to Stonehenge, Bath, and sometimes also Oxford. Those are all really interesting places but it’s a long day. London is so full of attractions that in four days you will still have things there you want to see. In Paris the Palace at Versailles is a bit outside of the city and it’s a great half-day or day trip.

    One challenge with Airbnb in these cities is that any apartment that is fairly large and within the desirable tourist areas will be very expensive. There are plenty of places that are more in residential areas that are a bit away from the attractions that offer good rates. In my opinion the most convenient neighborhood in London that might have Airbnbs is called Bayswater, which is just north of Hyde Park.

    In Amsterdam the close places will be expensive as well. The best locations are the ones closest to the main train station, and especially those on the same (south) side of the IJ river. Edinburgh might be a little easier. The best tourist neighborhood is called the Royal Mile, but the area called “New Town” is also very convenient (and it’s almost as old as Old Town). I can help more as the trip approaches so you should be fine and you’ve got plenty of time to sort it all out. -Roger

Jenny and Jack says:

G’day Roger,

We would like to get your opinion on our plan. Sorry, this is going to be long post but its better to get detail idea from someone like you.

Roughly 30days trip from Sydney
2 Adults (35yrs and 33yrs) and 2 kids (4 and 6yrs)
Travel Time : Late May (2019) – Mid June(2019) — depending on less flight fares from Sydney.

> London : Stay with in-laws/cousins for ~10days
> London to Amsterdam (by train) : Stay 2nights
> Amsterdam to Paris (by train?) : Stay 4nights
> Paris to Switzerland (by train) : stay 2nights –> but to which city?
> Switzerland to Italy (Florence) (by train) : 3 nights
> Italy (Florence) to Italy (Rome) (by train) : 3 nights
> Fly out from Italy (Rome) to Sydney (Australia)

Q1 : With kids of these age we are trying to understand how much time it takes during these each points in above list?
Q2 : Which city do you suggest in Switzerland?
Q3 : If all above places are connected by same train line? something like eurorail or ? Do we need to book all these travel tickets for train beforehand?
Q4 : Tips on visiting Eiffel Tower esp how to manage long queues, wait times etc when we have kids with us?
Q5 : Appro for a decent accomodation at each places above, what accomodation cost we are looking at each of them?
Q6 : Luckily, we have family in London so it saves our cost of accomodation etc in London, so given above plan for 4 of us. roughly/appro how much do you see $$$? I know there are many variable things here, but just to get some rough idea.



    Jenny and Jack,

    I’ll be happy to try to help.

    A1: I’m not sure I understand the question, but I do think you are scheduling enough time in each city. My normal strong preference is 3 nights in any city you visit, although some smaller cities like Venice or Bruges can be enjoyed in a day or two. Two nights in Amsterdam is a little quick, but you can still see a lot in a short time there.

    A2: I have a whole long article about where to go in Switzerland on a short trip. The short version is that the Interlaken area has the most dramatic Alpine highlights. Two days is a pretty short visit and you have to hope you don’t get unlucky with the weather, but it’s a good stop between Paris and Italy.

    A3: From London to Amsterdam you’ll take the Eurostar train, which is not part of the Eurail system, and trains within the UK are not part of the Eurail system either. For this itinerary it will be cheapest to buy individual tickets at least two months or so in advance. Many of the tickets will be surprisingly cheap when bought in advance like that, especially the ones within Italy.

    A4: The Eiffel Tower is usually least busy in the mornings, and it’s crowded all afternoon and then as sunset approaches because many people like to try to experience day and evening up there. You can book tickets in advance (at least a couple weeks in advance) on their website and reserve a time to go up. If you choose a time as early as possible it will be the easiest. When you arrive you have to go through airport-style security, and the queues are usually pretty short in the morning. After you get inside the fenced area you just look for the elevator queue for people with reservations at your time. As long as you are on time (or close) you should be on your way up the elevator no more than 10 or 15 minutes after you arrive. That said, the views from the top of the Eiffel Tower aren’t as nice as you’d expect because it’s so high. You actually get better photos from the second floor or from the top of the Arc de Triumph.

    A5: Hotel rooms in Europe’s large cities tend to be quite small compared to those in Australia or the US. I’d probably try to look for airbnbs or other short term rentals instead of hotel rooms. The downside is that the larger and more affordable ones are never in the heart of the tourist district. One upside is you can save money by doing a bit of cooking or doing picnics instead of sit-down meals 3 times a day. All of the cities on your list are on the expensive side for Europe. For a family hotel room with 2 or 3 beds with a good location in May or June it will probably be around £150 in London and €150 in the others. You can definitely find cheaper places than that, but you almost always have to sacrifice location for cheaper hotels or apartments. I think especially with young children it’s worth paying more to be within walking distance of the main sights rather than having to ride a bus or tram or subway into the city center every day.

    A6: Oh yes, free stay in London. That will obviously help a lot. It’s very hard to guess on a budget like this because everyone travels so differently. If you tried to do this frugally (and still with conveniently located accommodations) you could probably do it on €250 per day including €150 for a hotel (and usually breakfast). But the Eiffel Tower, for example, will cost you about €62 for all four of you to go to the top, so the more expensive attractions like that you do the more each day will cost. You CAN enjoy a trip without spending a fortune on attractions, but on the other hand is it worth it to spend thousands of AUD$s getting everyone there and then save a few hundred by skipping the Louvre or the Tower of London? That’s why it’s so difficult to predict costs.

    You might have a look at our 3-star traveler index for Europe, which shows a typical budget for each city (per person based on double occupancy) including meals, transport, attractions, and 3-star hotels. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Jenny and Jack says:

Thanks for your detailed reply.

We are looking at flights tickets from Sydney.
We are getting cheaper fare by ~200$ per person if we choose to fly out to Sydney from Amsterdam instead of Rome. We will fly in to London from Sydney.

So in this case, after London should we go to Rome and do reverse trip? Rome, Florence,Paris, Amsterdam?
If yes, what is the best way London to Rome? Flight? Do you see any issues in doing such reverse trip?


    Jenny and Jack,

    That isn’t too surprisingly since Rome tends to be expensive for long-haul flights compared to other large and popular cities. So yes, I’d do it in reverse, and flying is definitely the best way from London to Rome. You should be able to get a cheap flight to Rome, probably out of one of the other London airports like Stansted or Luton. I just checked and it looks like most of the big low-cost carriers do London to Rome nonstop, and if you buy far enough in advance it looks like they start under US$50, not including checked bags. Of the cheaper ones I’d recommend Vueling (a Spanish airline) or Easyjet rather than Ryanair.

    If you are including Interlaken then the train ride from Florence or Venice through the Alps is amazing and then you can go from Interlaken to Paris and to Amsterdam by train. If you are skipping Switzerland then it would be best to fly from Florence or Venice to Paris and then the train to Amsterdam. It’s probably even a little nicer to do it this way because Italy will start to get hotter as summer approaches, while Paris, Amsterdam, and London are almost always mild. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

L.A says:

Hi Roger,

Thank you for all your inputs. Very informative site. My husband and I would be going for a Europe trip coming from Geneva Switzerland and would like to skip Switzerland (as we’re staying there after our Euro trip). We have 9-10 days to spare for euro trip excluding Switzerland. We need to be back to Geneva after the Euro trip. This is around end of Dec to first week of January 2019. So will be spending new year somewhere in Europe.

We are looking for the best itinerary. Cities we would like to visit are Rome, Florence/Venice,Barcelona,Paris, Amstermdam,Bruges and other interesting cities you can recommend.

Thanks in advance.



    If you have 9 or 10 days I’d recommend choosing 3 or perhaps 4 total cities. Have a look at my article on the best December destinations in Europe. Most of the cities on your list are in that article, and it should help you narrow down your choices. If you’ve never been to Paris I’d recommend you include it for 3 nights. The fastest trip that I recommend would be 3 nights in Paris and then a flight to Venice for a stay of one night. Venice has those Acqua alta floods sometimes in December, but the worst of it usually only lasts a few hours at a time. From Venice you can take a short train ride to Florence for two nights and then another short train ride to Rome for 3 nights. If you have 10 days it would be better to spend 3 nights in Florence because there is a lot to see and you could also spend half a day in Pisa, which is an hour away by train. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger


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