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

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

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

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

How many cities to visit?

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

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

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

>>>Going just to Italy: Here are the best first-time Italy itineraries for 3 days to two weeks

Flying in and out

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

Two one-way tickets is ideal

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

The first thing to try is this:

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

Compare that to this:

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

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

Getting around once in Europe

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

Even on trains, you still have three main options:

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

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

Best cities in France and Italy for first-time visitors

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

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

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

Paris to Nice by train: About 6 hours

Nice, France (minimum 2 nights)

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

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

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

Milan (1 night or just skip it)

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

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

Milan to Venice by train: About 2.5 hours

Venice (1 night minimum, 2 nights maximum)

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

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

Venice to Florence by train: About 2 hours

Florence (2 nights minimum, plus side trips)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cinque Terre (1 night, optional)

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

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

Florence to Rome by train: About 90 minutes

Rome (minimum 3 nights)

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

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

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

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

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

Stay in Sorrento

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

Amalfi Coast and the Island of Capri

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

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

Filling in the rest of your itinerary

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

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

Cinque Terre photo by World Walk About on Flickr

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

Mark says:

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

    Roger Wade says:

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

      Lesley says:

      Dear Roger – I stumbled across you on this website and very interesting it has proved to be. Here is a challenge for you – we are 2 65 year old ladies who are hoping to visit France/Italy as our bucketlist – before we might get too old to be brave enough! We will be coming from New Zealand, last week of August and first 3 weeks of September = so approx. 4 weeks. We would love to visit especially Paris, and then into Italy I am thinking Tuscany, Sienna, Chianti – in fact we are open to anywhere beautiful and suitable to visit by trains and buses when we are there – hopefully avoiding the need to rent a car, unless just for a couple of days to get somewhere more easily. We are happy to stay in one spot a few nights to really get the feel of a place and also hope to do this on a fairly average budget as we are coming such a distance. Would you think we can get accommodation at a reasonable price – bearing in mind we would want 2 rooms as ONE of us snores. This will obviously make it more expensive per night, so maybe a 2 bedroomed apartment might be better ? What can we expect to pay in Italy for accommodation such as this per night – any hope of getting 2 rooms for around 100 Euros a night>? Any ideas on travel and accommodation would be really helpful for us. Many thanks.

        Roger Wade says:


        The last week of August will be busy near any beach areas in those countries, but starting in September the crowds will be smaller. So as long as you start in cities, probably Paris, I think you’ll be okay in general.

        The snoring issue will make this challenging on the finances. Assuming that you’ve already experimented with earplugs and that sort of thing, I think your best bets will be to find Airbnb apartments with two bedrooms or perhaps one bedroom and a sofabed. In other words, that time of the year, any single hotel room for around €50 is going to be dismal if you can find one at all. However, I think finding €100 apartments with separate bed areas will be fairly easy.

        In Paris or Rome or Venice, a €100 apartment that would work for you will be tough, although you should definitely spend at least 3 or 4 nights in Paris, 1 or 2 nights in (or near) Venice, and at least 3 nights in Rome. Outside of those cities, it should be easier, so you might have to budget €120 or €130 per night in the expensive cities and then find cheaper places in the other destinations.

        As you might imagine, it’ll be easier to find such places in the smaller towns. Tuscany is a region with many small towns, many of which are also on train lines. I think you’ll be able to do all of this by train with the occasional bus ride here and there.

        For a trip like what you have in mind, I highly recommend using a guidebook, whether it’s a digital version or a print version. There is an American guidebook writer/company called Rick Steves, and I’ve been using his books for decades. He’s excellent at pointing out the interesting sights and smaller towns, plus affordable accommodations in each place. It will be the best US$30 or so you’ll spend on this trip, and it’ll save you many hundreds of dollars and also give you confidence about what you are planning.

        I think your trip will be wonderful as long as you plan it carefully. And I’ll be happy to help answer other questions if you have them. -Roger

Dan says:

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

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

      Dan says:

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

        Roger Wade says:


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

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

          Dan says:

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

          Roger Wade says:


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

Dan says:

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

PJ Poursha says:

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

thank you ,

TJones says:

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

Margaret says:

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

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

Tengkulinie says:

Hi Roger,

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

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

Thank you in advance.

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

    Recommended Rome hotels
    Recommended Venice hotels

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

Tengkulinie says:

Thank you for your very quick response!

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

Will heed your advices and check out the hotels soon.

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

Thank you once again! 🙂

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

Joy says:

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

tasdst8 says:

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

Devaana says:

Hi Roger,

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

The rough idea is:

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

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

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

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

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

ML says:

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

S.A. says:

Hi Roger,

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

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

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Tashi says:

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

      Now this is the way we have planned :

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

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

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

      Awaiting your reply .

        Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

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

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

Jora says:

Hi Roger,

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

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

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

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

Would appreciate your kind reply! Thanks!

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

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

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

Beverly Rosas says:

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kat says:

Hi Roger,

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

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

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

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shawn says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any suggestion is welcome as I have no idea!

Thanks in advance for your help!


    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      shawn says:

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

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

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

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

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


        Roger Wade says:


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

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

Sumit says:

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

Steve says:

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

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

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

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



    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

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

Neeti says:

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

Amsterdam : Two nights

Belgium: Bruges – Two nights

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

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

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

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

Ramy says:

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

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

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MJ says:

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

Julia says:

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

jocelyn says:

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      jocelyn says:

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

Susan says:

Hi Roger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your advice and help.

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Susan says:

      Thanks so much Roger for the prompt and detailed response.

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

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



        Roger Wade says:


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

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

Ash says:

Hi Roger,

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

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

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

Erica says:

Hi Roger ,

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

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

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


    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

      Erica says:

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

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

      Thank you for your help Roger.

Moh says:

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

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

      Moh says:

      Dear Roger

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

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

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

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

      Your suggestions are very much appreciated.

      Thank you


        Roger Wade says:


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

Amardeep says:

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

Would love to get your feedback on the below please:

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

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

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

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

      Amardeep says:

      Thanks Roger

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

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

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

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

      Many, many thanks! Appreciate your time and effort greatly 🙂

Anne says:

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

      Anne says:

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

Jawad Khalil says:

Hi Roger

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

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

Will really appreciate your advice.


    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

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

      Jawad Khalil says:

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

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

Jawad Khalil says:

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

charly mi says:

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

    Roger Wade says:

    charly mi,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tifny says:


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

Please help

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

Sheree says:

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

Vini Batheja says:

Excellent itinerary suggestions ! Thanks for posting !

Olivia says:

Hi Roger,

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

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

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

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

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


    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

Edna says:

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

Darren says:

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

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

Thanks for your help.

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

Timmy says:

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

hsharma2015 says:

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

Waiting for your response.


    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Hs says:

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


        Roger Wade says:


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

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

Ron Mark says:

Hay Roger,

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

Sarah says:

Hi Roger,

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

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


    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barbara says:

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

GIna G says:

Hi Roger,

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

    Roger Wade says:

    Gina G,

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

    Arrive in Paris on 14 September for 4 nights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GIna G says:

Hi Roger,

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


Katherine says:

Hi Roger,

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

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

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

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

I am excited to hear your advice!



    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

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

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

      Katherine says:

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

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

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

      Thank you again!



        Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

Miri says:

Hi Roger,

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

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

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

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

Should we change anything?

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

Would love to hear your thoughts!!

Thanking you in advance! 🙂

Kind Regards,

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

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

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

      Miri says:

      Hi Roger,

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

      Thanks again!!

      Kind Regards,
      Miri 🙂

Jennifer says:

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

    Roger Wade says:


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

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

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

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

Janet says:

Hi Roger!

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

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

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

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

Thanks very much!

    Roger Wade says:

    Janet & Gary,

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

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

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

Tashi says:


do you have any itinerary for Paris london scotland ?

    Roger Wade says:


    So far I haven’t written a similar article with itinerary suggestions including London and Scotland, but I actually have traveled in that area extensively so maybe I can help out. I obviously don’t know your schedule or goals, so I’ll keep it basic to start.

    Spend at least 3 nights in Paris and then take the Eurostar train to London. Spend at least 3 nights in London. If you want to visit other places in England before you get to Scotland the best choices for most people are Bath/Bristol, Oxford/Cambridge, and York. Those are all really lovely places with plenty to see. Unless you are a big Beatles fan I’d save Liverpool for another trip.

    If you stop in York you’ll be well on your way to Scotland already. The main thing you want to see in Scotland is the wonderful city of Edinburgh, which really does live up to the hype. Spend at least 2 or 3 nights there. You might also pop over to Glasgow, which has a really nice city center, but otherwise it has few famous attractions.

    If you still have more time for Scotland you’ll want to head up to Inverness, which is a really nice town and also the gateway to the Scottish Highlands. From there you can take tours that include the Isle of Skye, with really dramatic scenery all around. Inverness is also very close to Loch Ness, which is really nothing more than a disappointing tourist trap, so I’d skip it.

    Now that you mention it, I probably will write a full article about these suggestions and more, but that probably won’t be for a couple months. In the meantime, if you have other questions, please feel free to follow up. -Roger

      Tashi says:

      Hi sorry the reply botton wasnt working up , so putting a separate comment :

      Roger will the above mentioned itenary work if I have my tickets already booked in and out of Paris from 7th March to 19th March from India

        Roger Wade says:


        Yes, that should work well. Is there anything in particular that you are worried about? I’ll try to help if I can. -Roger

Bill From Pennyslvania says:

Good Day Roger.

What a fantastic site to find, only if I had found it about a year ago. My wife and I just came back from visiting Paris, the Champagne Region, Avignon and Nice and thank goodness you could use the TV Euro train since we fit the trip into 12 days. We now wish to travel from Nice to Venice for 14 days late spring and thought about renting a car, wanting to see the beauty along the Mediterranean and see some of the little towns along the way in hopes of ending in Rome for 3 days with possible a side trip to Venice to visit the Glass Factory’s. What are your thoughts in driving knowing it’s for no more than 14 days?

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m always happy to hear that people find this information useful. 🙂

    I think renting a car to see small towns and views in France and Italy is a fine idea. The important thing to know is that renting a car to get between and visit large cities in Europe is usually unwise because parking is very expensive and having a car while visiting a large city does much more harm than good. However, for going between and staying in small towns, having a car is pretty much the only good way to do it.

    One other thing to be aware of, unfortunately, is that most “small towns” on the Mediterranean were built as fishing villages and parking is still likely to be problematic. You might be able to park in a public lot near the town square for maybe €10 for an hour or two while you walk around and have lunch, but even that might be challenging in some of them because they are crowded and just weren’t built for auto tourism.

    In other words, I’d make sure you do some research and hopefully have a good guidebook so you know where you are going and hopefully where you can leave the car for a bit. You’ll find really nice roads with vista turnouts here and there, so I think it will work out well. But it will be quite different from, say, visiting the small towns in the wine regions where free parking is easy to find.

    And needless to say, you’ll have to park outside of Venice, probably near the train station on the mainland, and then take the train or a boat to get into the city. So long story short, it won’t be nearly as relaxing as it would have been driving around wine country, but as long as you go in late spring rather than in July or August, it should probably be really enjoyable if a bit stressful. Best of luck with it. -Roger

Bill says:


Thank you for the pointers. Having driving around Nice, I do agree, it is very expensive to pay for parking and that’s if you can find a place to park. I do have another question regarding trains. I understand the trains from Nice to Genoa is classified as a local and has no amenities and stops a great deal of time causing an extended time in travel? Maybe that’s not a bad thing in place of renting a car for quick off and on to see town’s etc. but is there a different train that can be taken with out local stops? Truly appreciate your views.

    Roger Wade says:


    I’ve not heard that about Nice to Genoa trains, and the one I took quite a few years ago was a normal international train. The fastest one takes a bit over 3 hours these days and it requires a seat reservation for rail pass holders. One thing I can tell you is that the trains between Barcelona and Italy are quite slow and do make many local stops. I don’t believe there are any intercity express trains, partly because there are so many cities of about the same size. -Roger

Samir says:

We are a family of 4 ( 2 adults and 2 kids ages 14 and 9) , and are considering taking a 2 week trip to Europe with France and Italy as the main countries to visit. Do you have any thoughts on package tours like Trafalgar’s European Wonderland that is marketed as a “Family” tour.

Would like to add that we are looking at last 2 weeks on June for the trip. Thanks so much for this site, this page especially simplifies the “planning” for a first timer significantly.

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m not familiar with Trafalgar (or most other package tour companies) because I always focus on independent self-guided travel. Looking at their itinerary right now, it looks like it moves really fast, if we are talking about the one that starts in Rome and ends in London. In other words, I’m no expert on package travel and I generally recommend people do it on their own.

    On one hand, a package like that will be way easier and less stressful than planning on your own. I know many people are happy with those sort of packages and continue to do them. I think it’s mostly a matter of personality and preferences. So if you like what you see and you feel you’d be more comfortable that way, then it’s probably your best choice.

    On the other hand, you can certainly do it cheaper on your own and you obviously have the freedom to see exactly the things that interest you, and avoid the things that don’t. Again, I’m not familiar with Trafalgar, but the lower-price package tours everywhere in the world are famous for including frequent shopping stops. For example, the day begins at a famous attraction, and your next stop is an overpriced souvenir shop for almost an hour because the tour guide gets 10% or 20% of everything you spend there.

    Another weakness of package tours is that the provided meals are always in these huge restaurants that do most of their business with tour bus groups. These restaurants have to be able to serve 46 people within an hour, so they tend to be buffets where everything is waiting for you. If you really like to try local cuisine then you’ll get very little of it on a bus tour like that, or at least you’ll get very little that isn’t mass produced a few hours before you get there.

    Lastly, it looks like they are visiting 10 cities in 13 days. Several of them are obviously just a few hours as you are going from one city to another, but that’s still WAY faster than most people prefer. It’ll almost be like watching the cities on TV as they pass before your eyes as your bus just keeps moving. Some people like that sort of thing, and if you think you’d be happy seeing 10 cities in your home country within 13 days, then this might be a good choice for you.

    I’m just happy that anyone is traveling anywhere like this, so I think you’ll have a good time on this tour or if you plan on your own. If you do decide to book your own trip I’ll be happy to help you sort out some details. Bon voyage. -Roger

      Samir says:


      Thanks so much for your response. Really appreciate you taking the time to provide such a detailed reply.

      Yes, I agree with your comments about package tours and the number of cities covered in such a short time. I have not done any such tours before, all our past tours were self planned and have worked well(these have been in my home country though). Since this is my first time going to Europe with family, I was looking at the tour option. But, based on your response and reading similar comments elsewhere, I am now encouraged to plan it on my own and can certainly take your help.

      This is my draft plan :

      1> Paris – 3 to 4 nights ,
      2> Swiss Alps (Interlaken?) – 2 nights
      3> Venice – 1 night (may be 2)
      4> Florence – 2 nights
      5> Rome – 2 to 3 nights

      I understand that there is not much time between now and end of June and as such I may be already late with the planning process but I am going to try to make it happen.

      I am looking for a good resource to help me with accommodations and transportation. Any recommendations would be helpful.

      Thanks again!

        Roger Wade says:


        I’m happy to hear that you are going to plan the trip on your own. Since you are already an experienced independent traveler I think you’ll do well at this, and probably would have been a bit unhappy on the fast-moving bus tour because those always go at the pace of the slowest person.

        And actually, once you have your flights booked you can plan a trip like this starting only a few weeks before you leave. I do recommend booking hotels at least a week or two out, or longer if you can, and it’s probably best to book your train tickets at least a month out in order to get the best prices on them.

        Your itinerary draft looks pretty much perfect, which of course I would say because it looks like you are following most of my advice in the above article. Still, I’m sure you’ll be happy with it. And yes, if you want to see the Swiss Alps then Interlaken is definitely the place to go. This article on where to go in Switzerland explains it all in great detail.

        And again, you’ll want to do this trip by train once you get to Paris. Here is my article on how and when to buy the cheapest train tickets for Europe. If you buy two or more months in advance you’ll be very pleased with how inexpensive the fares are. The ride from Interlaken to Venice is one of the most beautiful in the world, but it will take about 7 or 8 hours. You’ll want to do it during the daytime, so spending 2 nights in Venice might be wise.

        As for hotels, I can help at least a bit. I’ve written articles with recommended hotels in all of the cities you’ll be visiting except Interlaken. You can find links to each article on the City pages on this site. For example, here’s the City page for Rome. You’ll notice in the center column there is a link to another article with recommended hotels. The thing about hotels, though, is that the better ones tend to get booked up early and then raise their rates a bit, so it’s hard to say what is the best value at any given time. In those articles I recommend different central neighborhoods and explain why they are convenient for visitors. So even if the particular hotel I mention doesn’t seem to have a great rate for your dates, you can hopefully at least find another one nearby that looks appealing.

        The main thing to take away from those articles is that it’s usually a better idea (at least on quick trips like yours) to pay a bit more for a central location and smaller rooms rather than trying to save money or get larger rooms by booking places out by the airport or in distant suburbs. You can waste a lot of time each day going back and forth, and you end up with very few good choices for dinner in the evening if you are staying out of the center.

        For Interlaken I recommend staying in the wonderful little village of Gimmelwald, or the larger town of Murren just above it. It’s all explained in the article. If you stay in Gimmelwald then I highly recommend booking at a place called Esther’s Guesthouse, which is directly above the cable car stop there. In general, you’ll get the best deals on in Europe, and they are quite easy to use. They also offer free cancellation, so there isn’t much risk.

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

          Samir says:


          Many thanks!

          Truly, this is very helpful. Please let us know how visitors to your site (like me) can return the favor.


          Roger Wade says:


          It’s always great to hear that this advice is helpful. Actually, if you book any hotels using the links to from my pages, I get a small percentage and you still get the best prices. That’s one of the ways I make this a full-time job. But please just find the best hotels at the best rates you can, and I’m sure I’ll be fine. -Roger

Samir says:

Sounds good!


Samir says:

Hello again,

This is how my itinerary is shaping up ( considering I only have 12 nights ) .

Paris : 4 nights
Swiss alps : 2 nights
Venice : 2 nights
Florence: 2 nights
Rome : 2 nights
(return flight from Rome)

I wanted to take your opinion on the last 2 cities ( Florence and Rome), 2 days is such a short time , plus moving from one place to another will take time. So, I wanted to consider staying last 4 nights in Rome (instead of 2 nights in Florence and 2 nights in Rome) and then take a day trip to Florence considering its only 90 mins of train ride from Rome… or even take a road trip that way we can visit the country side in tuscany. Would you agree?


    Roger Wade says:


    You might consider knocking Venice down to 1 night because it’s quite compact and pretty easy to see in a day. As I always say, Venice is insanely crowded from about 10am until 5pm with day-trippers on bus tours so the key is to do some sightseeing in the early evening when it’s somewhat empty and also in the early morning to see a lot in a short time. During the middle of the day it’s so crowded that it’s very tiring. Also, the restaurants all close by around 10pm, so it’s not a late-night town.

    As for Florence and Rome, as you say, they are 90 minutes apart by train, so you can check out of a Florence hotel (especially if you stay near the train station, which is quite central anyway) at 9am, and be at your Rome hotel by 11:30am with most of the day still ahead of you. So even if you want to keep Venice to 2 nights, I’d still recommend 2 days in Florence and 2 days in Rome. On one hand, the major sights in Rome are bigger and more spectacular, but Florence is more pleasant and also wonderful.

    Your idea of taking a day trip to Florence from Rome could work as well, especially if you buy those train tickets well in advance so they are cheaper. The main sights in Florence are all within a fairly easy walk of the main train station, and you can see them in 8 hours or so. Hotels in Rome are more expensive and it’s also more exhausting because it’s more crowded.

    In other words, I think your plan could work, and however you do it you’ll have a great time. Bon voyage and let me know if I can help further. -Roger

Tony says:


Having gone through dozens of sites in the attempt of gathering information for our honeymoon, we feel your site and replies have been the most helpful.

My fiance and I are from Los Angeles and plan on traveling in October. We would like to know if our wishlist is logistically doable or recommended.

We have 21 days and wish to visit Paris, Rome, and Santorini. What would you recommend and how should we plan our transportation? Do you recommend additional stops with the 21 days allocated? Thanks in advance!


    Roger Wade says:


    I’m always happy to hear that people find this useful. Los Angeles is my home town as well, although I’m typing this from the Maldives.

    If you have 21 days to spend in Europe, I think the ideal itinerary will contain 5 to 7 stops. Now, on a honeymoon I understand that you’d want to spend more time relaxing and going slow through romantic destinations, but still I’d think about adding at least another stop or two to this.

    First off, Paris is gorgeous and amazing, and it’s a really nice place to just wander around in. You could spend a week there and not get bored, although you can see all of the worthwhile sights in about 4 relaxed days.

    Rome, on the other hand, is loaded with major sights, but it’s fairly chaotic. For example, traffic is famously crazy and just crossing the street is often times stressful. So it’s very worthwhile to visit Rome and stay maybe 3 or 4 nights, but it’s not very relaxing and not at all peaceful.

    I haven’t yet been to Santorini, but I’ve been to other Greek islands and most people visit them to relax in the sun during the day and enjoy food and drink at night. In other words, it could be a great part of a honeymoon trip, although 7 days is pretty long to be that relaxed for some people.

    So your wishlist would be very easy to do, just fly to France then fly to Rome then fly to Santorini then fly back to Paris (or London or Rome) for a flight home. But I think in 21 days you can see a few more wonderful things and still not feel at all rushed. I’ll throw out a few more possibilities and you can see what you think and I can help you with more info later if you like.

    If you haven’t been to London then it’s another incredible place to consider. You can get between Paris and London in about two hours on the Eurostar train, so you can go for just a couple days if you like, and it’s quite easy.

    After Paris you might also consider the south of France on your way to Rome. Nice is the best base, with still very nice weather in October. It’s a very interesting city itself, but it’s also about 20 minutes by train from Cannes in one direction and Monaco in the other. If you went to Nice then you could take a train from there to Rome and enjoy the countryside in between.

    In Italy, the “Big 3” (as mentioned in the article above) are Rome, Florence, and Venice. Most people want to see all three of them, and on a honeymoon I’d think that one or two nights in Venice would be high on your list. It’s an unforgettable place in case you both haven’t been yet.

    But my favorite base in Italy is Sorrento, which is just south of Naples. It’s a relaxed and tourist-friendly town where most locals speak English (which isn’t true in most of Italy), and from there you are very close to Naples (excellent day trip), Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast, and the island of Capri. I’d think about spending maybe 3 or 4 days in Rome and then 5 or 6 days based in Sorrento.

    If you want to set aside a week or so where you won’t feel pressured to go sightseeing all the time, then Santorini could be an ideal spot for that. Many people also stop in Athens on the way to see the famous sights for a day or two, but there will be time to do that later.

    So think about that and let me know if you have other questions. I’ll be happy to help you plan this to make it the ideal honeymoon for what you have in mind. -Roger

Victoria says:

Hi Roger,

Boy am i glad to find your page! Read through almost all the comments since 2013 and this is what i want to ask (thank you in advance for your patience):

1) I have been to Venice and Pisa and Rome as a kid on a tour about 18 years ago so i was thinking of skipping them. This time round i am intending to go to Italy as a food trip to eat and hopefully pick up some skills to bring back to Singapore for my new F&B business venture than a museum/historical/archeological trip although i do appreciate natural and man-made beauty. Would like your input on the traveling, places to visit and if 21 days would suffice or should i be extending the trip? Is May a good time?

2) I did consider crossing over to some other parts since Italy is so near some of the countries and i saw alot of comments on Nice. Should i?

3) My friend suggested Como Lake area but i thought to skip it. Contemplating Sicily and Isle of Elba. What are your thoughts?

4) I noticed your recommendations are usually from the North to the South and not the other way round. I was thinking of doing the inverse as i foresee my luggage getting heavier in the North, buying whatever amazing produce ie wine/ cheese/ cured meats i come across.

5) I was amazed that no one mentioned Greve in Chianti given that i understand Chianti wines are famous? My friend suggested me to go Liguria and Bologna but i did not see much info on the web about what to do there. Any input on this?

6) I noticed alot of recommendations mostly are from lonely planet and the food costs easily 30euros per meal! Any suggestions how else i can go about it without skimping on my food objective?

7) I am 26 during my trip in May as my birthday is in July so i wonder is there a point in the Euro Trail pass or something like that?

8) I read some parts of Italy find that sleeveless/ non covered shoes/ shorts to the knee are not acceptable attire?

9) These are the places i had in mind. My concern i suppose is more of how do i not just skimp through but have sufficient time to embrace Italy properly and visit the places yet not in an overly staying fashion. These are where i intend to go, your input would be much appreciated on the timeline and what should i do. i have found some places i thought of to visit based on the web info. Also any food recommendation is welcomed!!! In what order should i go?

-Naples and Amalfi Coast: Ischia, Positano, Sorrento, Naples, Pompeii (I understand Sorrento would be a good “base camp”, how do i travel around? train/ bus/ taxi?). What does Amalfi coast mean? because i am trying to picture what does visiting the Amalfi coast mean.
-Tuscany: San Gimigano, Florence, Greve in Chianti (Greve seems like farms so is spread out any advice on this?)
-Bologna the capital of Emilia-Romagna region? Any idea about this? not much web info…
-Liguria and Piedmont and Clique Terre: abit torn about these places. Not sure what to do.
-Milan, Como Lake and Venice to skip?

I will be going solo.

Greatly Thankful,

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m glad you found this page as well. It’s a long list and there are some I won’t be much help with, but I’ll try to answer your questions in order…

    1. Yes, I think May is a perfect month because it’s before the summer crowds and the weather is actually nicer. And I think skipping Venice, Pisa, and Rome is wise if you’ve already seen them. They haven’t changed much over the years.

    2. If you have time to pop over to Nice for at least a couple days, I think it would be worth it. If there is one country with a more famous food culture than Italy it’s France, and Nice is one of its main hubs so it would be worth having a look.

    3. Personally, I think Lake Como is a bit overrated for most visitors. It’s a nice-looking lake with a bunch of pleasant small towns scattered around its edges, connected by frequent ferry service. But there are nice-looking lakes in almost every European country. I think it’s mostly popular because it’s a nice weekend getaway from Milan and other large cities, and more recently it became more famous when George Clooney bought a home there. I’ve yet to make it to Elba, and my first trip to Sicily will be later this month (March, 2016) so I can say more then. However, most people agree that Sicily is interesting and nice, but it’s also remote and not worth the trouble unless you are spending a month in Italy or you’ve been to all of the other main places. The food does have a good reputation though, especially for simple seafood dishes, so that might be interesting for you.

    4. I think it’s most common to start in the north and head south in Italy because so many people are coming from France or Austria or Switzerland. As you probably know, the north of Italy is more organized and European, while the south is more chaotic and Mediterranean. You should go in whatever direction you prefer.

    5. For some reason, it seems that most people who want to tour wine regions do it in France rather than Italy. I think French wines have a better reputation, whether it’s deserved or not. I haven’t done any winery tours in Italy so I don’t have any more input on this. It sounds like you have enough time so I think it would be a good way to spend at least a couple of days.

    6. Sit-down meal prices in Italy are somewhat confusing because the traditional Italian way is to order at least 3 different courses. A starter or anti-pasti at most traditional (not fancy) restaurants will be around €5 to €7, with a pasta course about the same price, and a main course being more in the €8 to €12 range. So if you do order that way it will cost you close to US$30 for each meal, not even including wine (house wine is usually around €3 per glass). But even though I have a fairly large appetite, I never order more than two courses, and it’s always enough food, especially as you always get free bread. During lunch you can often get a 2-course special for around €9 or so if you look around, or you can get a pizza for around the same price, which is meal size. So I think the US$30 meals are for when you want to really do it big and spend two hours dining with friends. In other words, you will have many cheaper options wherever you go, including many excellent meals.

    7. The train tickets within Italy are fairly cheap, especially for shorter distances, so you don’t want to get a Eurail Pass or even an Italian rail pass. The key will be to make your onward train reservation as early as you can. If you can buy your onward tickets at least a few days before you want to leave, and you are flexible with travel times (going at 2pm instead of 9am), then you can probably average around €20 between the large cities.

    8. As far as I know, the places where you’ll want to have your shoulders and maybe knees covered are when visiting the cathedrals and other religious places. If you go to some nicer restaurants at night, or even some small villages, you might feel self conscious in a skimpy top, but generally Italy isn’t known for prudishness. You might want to check with a female travel blog just to be sure though.

    9. I’ll have more to say about Sicily in a couple weeks. Definitely plan on staying for at least 4 or 5 days in Sorrento as a base camp. The Amalfi Coast may be a bit overrated, but it’s still nice. It’s the dramatic steep coastline that faces south, just southeast of Sorrento and Naples. Positano and Amalfi are the largest of the towns, and they are very popular for their more traditional look and local feel. You get to Sorrento by a special train from Naples, and from there you’ll take the public buses that stop in each town along the Amalfi Coast. You can also go by ferry, so many people go down in a bus and come back in a ferry, to see it from different angles.

    I’ve spent most of my Tuscany time in Florence and Siena, but the hill towns are popular and obviously it’s a famous food region. I think you can get better advice from someone else on this.

    Bologna is another big food destination, though I haven’t been there since a childhood trip.

    Of those three, I’ve only been to Cinque Terre, and it’s probably worth going there on this trip. The five towns get extremely crowded in the warm months, and the food scene is quite touristy as a result. If you can stay a day in Vernazza it would be fun, but don’t worry if you skip it on this trip.

    Milan is the main transport hub in northern Italy, so you’ll almost certainly be going through it at least once. If you do you might want to stop there for a day or two just to get the feel of it. It’s a big and rich city with a good food culture, although it’s not very Italian because it was part of Austria only 100 or so years ago. Lake Como and Venice will be filled with tourists eating overpriced meals. Since you’ve seen Venice, I’d skip them both this time around.

    I hope this helps and let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

      Victoria says:

      Hi Roger,

      Apologies for the late reply, the website did not send me a notification!

      Thank you for your input, i will remove Lake Como, Clique Terre, Milan, Venice, Sicily out of my list. Your reply has been extremely helpful i feel less stress to cover everything and now i feel i have more than enough time on my hands! Some questions i have lingering:

      Any thoughts on Piedmont?

      Is there any recommendations for Nice? What to do/ see? Will take your advice on the French wines also because i will be going to a market in Tuscany that already has chianti wines and all to explore. Any idea if there is a train from Italy to Nice?

      Where can i buy the online train tickets in advance that you mentioned? Do i need to print out the tickets?

      Thank you for the information on attire, food pricing (enlightening about the lunch set!)

      Anything you’d recommend for Florence and Siena?

      The public buses you mentioned, is the fare paid by cash…..?

      Would you recommend for the following and some additional input:
      To base camp one week at Sorrento: To see Ischia, Positano, Sorrento, Naples, Pompeii, maybe Amalfi Coast
      To base camp one week at Florence?: To see Tuscany: Isola of Elba (TBC)- San Gimignano- Greve in Chianti- San Minato – Florence (Should I go Siena?)
      To go Bologna? Piedmont?
      To go Nice from Florence? Where to go?

      Also, i think there would be a train from Sorrento to Florence?

      Sorry but could you also share where did you stay in Sorrento? Because i cant find much Sorrento in airbnb

      Greatly Thankful,

        Roger Wade says:


        Sorry that you didn’t get a notification, but there is no problem with the timing of the reply. I’m always here (actually, in Dubai as of now). I’ll try to answer the questions in order…

        I haven’t spent much time in Piedmont and there aren’t many obvious tourist spots there, but there are obviously some important cities and wonderful sights. I’d say it’s an area best suited to people who have covered the more famous sights already, which could be you by the end of your trip.

        There are trains from big cities in Italy to Nice. Nice is one of France’s biggest tourist cities with great food and many excellent outdoor food markets. There are many museums and a (rocky) beach as well, so you’ll find plenty to keep you busy. And I always recommend people hop on a train for 20 minutes in either direction and visit Monaco and Cannes for at least a few hours each as well.

        Here’s the main website for Italian rail. You can buy tickets online and (I’m almost sure) you can store them on your smart phone so you don’t have to print them out.

        Florence is always packed with tourists and I’m sure you’ll find more than enough to do. The main Dom (cathedral) is not far from the train station, and it’s a big draw.

        Siena is an interesting city with fewer tourists, and many who visit do so on day trips from Florence by bus. The main attraction is the huge main square, which has bizarre horse races a couple times a year. It’s very scenic, although if you saved it for a future trip you might be just as well off.

        The Sita (public bus) that runs from the Sorrento train station along the Amalfi Coast can be paid in cash on board. I don’t think you can get advanced tickets.

        I think your plan to use those bases sounds pretty much ideal. For Florence, since hotels can be a bit expensive, you might want to stay in the city for part of your Tuscany time and then maybe in a hill town or smaller place for part of your time. But you can reach the popular hill towns in about an hour from Florence, so it might be better to just do day trips unless you really long for some quiet time (because you’ll be surrounded by tourists most of the time).

        Bologna is a big food city in Italy, but I haven’t spent time there so it’s hard for me to say.

        The only easy way to get to Sorrento is to take a train to Naples and then take the local train (the Circumvesuviana), which leaves downstairs on different tracks, or walk or take a taxi to the port and take a ferry. Naples has a reputation as the pick-pocketing capital of Europe, which can freak some people out. But if you are careful and keep your eyes open you’ll be fine. Just read up on it a bit and take the usual precautions. The pizza there is amazing.

        In Sorrento I stayed at a small hotel called the Palazzo Tasso, which is on a small alley just a short walk from the main town square. I’m not a big airbnb fan in European cities because the central places tend to be more expensive than hotels, and the cheaper places always seem to be in remote locations. When I visit European cities I really love to stay near the center of town so I can see everything and make frequent trips back to my room for breaks. If you can find an airbnb in that general area, I’m sure you’ll love it. You’ll want to be within walking distance of the Sorrento train station for sure. Keep in touch and best of luck with this. I’m happy to help. -Roger

Victoria says:

Hi Roger, i couldnt find so i had to book somewhere because everything was getting filled up! I managed to book a place in Naples: Via Giovanni Pascoli, Frattamaggiore, Campania. So i think maybe the Sita wont work in my favor?

After much thinking i decided totally drop Piedmont.
Naples and Amalfi Area: 7 nights
Tuscany/ Florence Area: 7 nights
Bolognia and Emilia Romagna Area: 5 days, 4nights
Nice, France Area: 4days, 3 nights

Wow so much to research! OK! i will go and read into Cannes and Monaco as well, but is it possible for 4days 3 nights? Still trying to see what is there in Nice to do, so far i found some nice food spots and walk up to Castle Hill for a beautiful view of the city, the Bay of Angels and of course, the bright blue water that gave the Cote d’Azur its name.
The Alpes Maritimes is unique, nowhere else will you find snow capped mountains and an Azur blue sea along with such a wealth of culture.

With this i think i will skip Siena. Unless i have enough time in Florence/Tuscany to do so.


Victoria says:

Hi Roger,

I checked i think i will be skipping Cannes and Monaco and Eze Village. I am venturing Bologna or somewhere to go. Meaning Florence to Bologna to ??? to Nice.


    Roger Wade says:


    It sounds like your itinerary is really coming together now, and I’m sure it’ll be an amazing trip. You’ll like Nice and its food for sure. Cannes is close by (as is Antibes) and they are mainly just examples of posh towns on the French Riviera, and of course many people like to see Cannes because of the film festival, even though there are no cinemas that tourists will walk by. But, Monaco is also nearby and it’s one of the most beautiful cities in Europe so I think it’s worth at least a few hours. It’s only about 22 minutes away by train from Nice, and the view looking out over the harbor is worth the trip alone.

    By the way, if you will be doing any side trips from Nice you probably want to stay close to the train station. That’s where many of the cheaper hotels (and airbnbs) are located anyway, and it’s a good area for budget travelers. Bon voyage. -Roger

Victoria says:

I think i will try to go 2hrs out of Nice to check out some winery wineyards

Vivek Miranda says:


I find the wealth of information very useful for planning travel to Europe. I am planning an Western Europe travel from India, to France, Italy, Spain with my wife and two sons. We intend to do it in 12 days commencing end May. Could you please advise on an itinerary. Our places of interest are historical, catholic churches and sports (soccer) in the order of priority. I was tempted to add Portugal by adding 2 more days but dropped it as I felt it would be too cramped. what would be the port of entry and exit and train as the mode of travel between cities.

Many thanks,

    Roger Wade says:


    Your idea of dropping Portugal is probably wise because of those two extra days you’d spend one of them in transit because it requires a night train and/or flights.

    But actually, 12 days is going to be very rushed if you want to visit the three countries left on your list. I’ll actually recommend saving Spain or Italy for a future trip for reasons I’ll outline below. Assuming that this is your first visit to this part of Europe, then really the classic France and Italy itinerary described in the article above will be the most enjoyable and easiest. Not only is Spain quite large and somewhat remote for this trip, but English is not widely spoken there so it can be trickier than the others.

    I highly recommend spending 3 nights in most cities in Europe, partly because your transit day will not be much of a sightseeing day. You can get a good look at Florence in 2 nights and Venice even in 1 night, as mentioned above, but part of that is because they are close together and the train only takes about two hours between them. If you go from Venice to Paris, it’s either an 11-hour train ride, or a 2-hour flight with all of the extra waiting and airport transport mixed in, so that takes nearly the whole day as well.

    For history and Catholic churches, not to mention many other reasons, you’ll definitely want to spend at least 3 nights in Rome and at least 3 nights in Paris. If you are locked into the 12 nights then here’s probably the best and easiest way to do it:

    Fly into Rome and spend 3 nights there
    Take a train to Florence for 2 or 3 nights
    Take a train to Venice for 1 night
    Take a train (7.5 hours) or flight to Nice for 2 or 3 nights
    Take a train to Paris for 3 or 4 nights

    Because those Italian cities are pretty close together and the train rides are only 2 hours or so, you can still see a lot in 6 days in those 3 cities. That would give you 6 more days in Nice and Paris.

    Or you might actually be better off doing those 3 Italian cities in 7 or 8 days, and then flying directly to Paris for the remainder. If you aren’t too interested in Nice, Cannes, and Monaco, then skip them for this trip.

    Including soccer sights on this trip could also be a bit tricky. As you know, the leagues will all be done for the summer by late May, so the best you could do is one of those stadium tours. I’d think that they’d have those in Rome and/or Paris, although I’d imagine that Camp Nou in Barcelona would be better, or even San Siro in Milan. I wouldn’t go to Barcelona unless I had 3 days to spend there, but you could conceivably spend one night in Milan after Venice and visit San Siro.

    By the way, if you would prefer to keep Spain and get rid of Italy or France, you’ll want to allow 3 nights in Barcelona AND 3 nights in Madrid. Both are large cities with many great sights, and they aren’t much alike at all.

    I’ll be happy to help you sort this out in future comments if you write back with your preferences. But for now, I’d recommend flying into Rome and flying out of Paris. Or if a return flight from India to one of those is much cheaper, you could fly into Paris and then immediately take a low-cost flight to Rome to start the trip, or the other way around.

    Again, I’m happy to help more if I can. I’m sure it’ll be a great trip. -Roger

Laurence henley says:

Heloo, i love your website! So glad to have foundit! We are going to italy for the first time in september, we are spending a few days in dublin first(easier fly schedule ) and going to rome , i booked one of the hotels you recommended , thank you , my question is wether to go to brescia from there and do side trips but staying based in brescia ? We want to recreate a little of the 1000 miles race and go to the ducati factory , we leave at the end of september from dublin , staying there maybe 3days before flying out . Thanks for any help you can give us !

    Roger Wade says:


    Thank you. This is a tough one because I’ve never been to Brescia and it’s known more as an industrial city than a tourist destination. So with that in mind, it sounds like you have a specific reason for visiting, which is great. One of the challenges in staying in a city that doesn’t have much of a tourist infrastructure is that far fewer people will speak English, and it’s often tough to find a restaurant where you feel comfortable or even welcome.

    If you speak Italian or even Spanish then it might not be so tough, but if not, you might be better off staying in Milan or Verona and visiting Brescia during the day when you want to see something there. Milan is more international and English is pretty widely spoken, although it’s also a convention city so half the time the hotels are extremely expensive and the other half they are weirdly cheap. If room rates there look reasonable, it might be a great choice. You can reach Lake Como in an hour from Milan, among many other places.

    That’s all the advice I can offer on this, and again, I haven’t been there and I’m unsure what you have in mind. I hope it helps and feel free to follow up. -Roger

Justine says:

Hi Roger, I’m a female in my mid-twenties currently planning a trip to Europe on my own for around 20 days. I initially looked into doing a tour, but have decided I’d much rather explore on my own. I’ve decided that Paris, Italy, and Greece are my top 3 places to go in Europe and I want to spend as much time in each as possible, particularly Italy. So I am thinking 4-5 days in Paris, around 10 days in Italy, and maybe 3-4 days in Greece. In italy, I’d like to see Florence, Venice, Rome for sure, Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast if at all possible. I’m not certain if I want to go to Nice/Monaco and am not too interested in Milan. I was thinking of going from Paris straight to Venice, then exploring Florence, Cinque Terre, Pisa etc., then to Rome and down to the Amalfi Coast before taking a boat/flight to Greece (Mykonos and Santorini). Is this practical at all?

I have a general idea of what I want to do/see in each place, but am clueless about planning hotel/hostel and AirBnB stays in Europe. I don’t know if I should try to book it all at once, or the best places to stay in each place. I was thinking definitely AirBnB for Paris, as I want to stay in the main part of town for a few days, and then a mix of accommodations in Italy and Greece depending on where I go. One of my main concerns is, I don’t think I want to take my luggage with me absolutely everywhere- I would like to leave it at the apartment/hotel/hostel where I am staying, but I don’t know if I can do that everywhere. If I must I can take my pack everywhere with me, but was hoping to take a smaller pack/bag for day trips. Any advice you have on these matters would be much appreciated! Thank you.

    Roger Wade says:


    This sounds like a great trip, and 20 days should be long enough to see almost everything on your list. I’ll try to answer the questions in the order they came up…

    Four days should be long enough to see everything you want in Paris. If Greece is a priority, then skip Nice and Monaco. The best way would be to fly from Paris to Venice or nearby Treviso on a cheap airline, as it would be far cheaper and obviously way faster than a train.

    Venice is great for 1 or 2 nights, as mentioned in the article above. Florence and Rome are good for 3 days or so each, although Rome is WAY larger, though Florence has more interesting day trips nearby and it’s less expensive and less stressful than Rome. On a fast-paced trip like this, I’d recommend Cinque Terre over Amalfi Coast. You can actually do Cinque Terre as a day trip or quick overnight from Florence, while seeing the Amalfi Coast requires getting at least to Sorrento and then another day or two from there. Both choices are a bit underwhelming on a fast trip, and you might actually appreciate days trip to Pisa, Siena, or one of the Tuscan hill towns a bit more. Those coastal areas are so packed with tourists during the day that it’s hard to appreciate the magic of them, which is easier to notice if you stay 2 or 3 days on a future trip to Italy.

    The only ferries from Italy to Greece are slow ones leaving from the east coast, so flying is a far better option. Fly from Rome to Santorini and it should be fairly cheap and fast.

    As for your luggage, obviously you can leave whatever you want in a hotel or apartment while you are renting the place. As for a hostel, if you do the dorm bed thing then they usually come with a locker where you use your own lock for smaller things (computers etc), and there is a secure luggage room for larger items. Reports of thefts from these places are amazingly rare, so as long as you follow the procedures and keep your phone and wallet on you at all times, you’ll be fine.

    For hotels and hostels you can also store a bag in the secure luggage room before you check in or after you check out. So if you have a 4pm train you can check out at 10am and come back to get your bag several hours later after doing your last sightseeing. For apartments such as airbnbs, there is usually no storage facility available before you check in or after you check out. However, every train station in Europe’s larger cities has storage lockers where you can stash a backpack for maybe €5 for half a day.

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

Gordon says:

Hi Roger,
Thanks a lot for your information and it is really useful for me! Especially this will be the first time I visit Europe (I am from Hong Kong)

I have bought an open-jaw air ticket and I will arrive at CDG on 30/7, and leaving from FCO on 13/8. I come up with the following general plan for my trip. If you have time for some advice, I will be very thankful or your help!

I will start by staying 3 days in Paris, and then on the 4th day, I will take a flight to Toulouse (stay at Toulouse + Carcasonne for 2 days). Then, on the 6th, take a flight from Toulouse to Nice, and stay at Nice for 3 nights. On the 9th day, from Nice to Florence, for 3 days. Then Florence to Rome for 3 other days.

Is this itinerary doable? Could you give me some advice? I will go with my university friends so energy probably is not a problem. Thank you very much!


    Roger Wade says:


    I think your plan looks really good and well paced. I don’t know the Toulouse area but I know the others and they are obviously filled with highlights. I suppose my only suggestion would be to consider taking trains in France rather than flying. From Paris to Toulouse there is a train that goes direct in 5 hours and 20 minutes. From Toulouse to Nice the fastest train is 6 hours 20 minutes, although most options are a bit over 7 hours. The scenery is quite nice on both rides, particularly when you get near the Med.

    If you buy those tickets soon on (official France rail site) they will be fairly cheap, and possibly cheaper than the flights. But really the main thing is that the experience is about a million times more pleasant on the train compared to hustling to the airport and all of that. And of course, with a one-hour flight, it really takes about 5 hours to get from city center to city center, so the schedule isn’t much different. Personally, if the train was €80 and a flight was €40, I’d still take the train on these routes.

    By the way, Nice to Florence can be complicated by train and you might have to change trains twice. It takes 6.5 to 7 hours, and the earlier you buy that ticket the lower the prices will be and the more options you’ll have of fast trains. You should probably buy the Florence to Rome ticket soon while you are at it, although that won’t be too expensive either way.

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

Parul says:

I spent the evening reading different comments on this post … We are planning a trip to Europe for the first time aand I basically want to include France Italy and Switzerland and on the way back go to London.
Basic Itinerary :
Paris – 4 days
Italy – 5 days
Switzerland – 4 days.
This is the Itinerary which I planned but am not too sure .. I am travelling with my parents so comfort would be my first preference… Please suggest how we should travel and plan .. Any suggestion would be really helpful.

    Roger Wade says:


    Your itinerary looks quite good to start with. As far as how to get around with comfort in mind, you’ll want to do most of it by train, as trains in Europe are far more comfortable and less stressful than flying.

    If you are starting in Paris then it would be most efficient to head to Switzerland after that, and then take a train to Italy. Here’s specifically what I’d suggest:

    Paris for 4 nights then a train to Interlaken for 2 nights
    Take a train from Interlaken to Lucerne for 2 nights
    Take a train from Lucerne to Venice, which will take about 7 hours with a change of trains in Milan, but the part from Luzerne to Milan is one of the most beautiful train rides in the world.

    Now, I normally recommend 6 nights for the quickest good Italy visit, so it would be ideal if you could add at least one more night. If not, you’ll have to figure out where to cut. You can have a great Venice visit in about 24 hours, as mentioned in the article above. Then you can take the 2-hour train ride to Florence for 2 nights, and then the 90-minute train ride to Rome for 3 nights. After that I’d recommend flying to London.

    Here is information on exactly where to go in Switzerland.

    As for Italy, you could skip one of the cities, but it would be hard to pick which one to skip. And I wouldn’t recommend cutting a night in Florence or Rome because there is just too much to see to do it in fewer days.

    I’m happy to help you figure out more of the details on this, so feel free to comment back with more questions if you have them. -Roger

      Parul says:

      Hi Roger,

      Thank you soo much for the suggestions. I would include them for sure.

      Just wanted to know if soo much travel is involving trains, then is it advisable for me to buy a europass or should I just buy tickets as and when needed ?

        Roger Wade says:


        For a tightly scheduled trip like this, you will be best off buying your train tickets online, as far in advance as possible for the cheapest prices. The Paris to Interlaken and Lucerne to Venice tickets would be quite expensive if you waited until the last minute to buy, but they will be reasonable if you buy at least a month or so in advance.

        A Eurail Pass is best for longer trips where you want to make plans as you go. They aren’t cheap, but they are usually cheaper than buying last-minute tickets. On the other hand, advance train tickets in Europe can be surprisingly cheap if you buy them online at least a month or more in advance. Buy from the official rail sites of the countries involved. Have a great trip. -Roger

Hari says:

Dear Roger:Few days ago, not knowing what I was getting into, I went ahead and booked tickets to Europe (from US) – Flying into Paris and flying out of Rome. I(46) will be travelling with my spouse(44) and my son(14). As a first timer to Europe, I am certainly overwhelmed at the task of planning an itinerary. I am glad I found your website! While there is a lot more research to do, I was hoping you would review my current plan and make suggestions for changes. I would like to finalize my train tickets ASAP and work on accommodations after. Here is the current plan:

August 2nd (ar in Paris 7AM) to August 17th (dep Rome 10:50AM):
1. Paris (4 nights) – To include a half day trip to palace of Versailles
Leave at ~7AM to reach Lecerne ~noon
2. Lucerne (1 night)
3. Interlaken (2 nights) – To stay in Gimmelwald or Murren
Leave from Interlaken to Speiz-Milan-Genoa
4. Santa Margherita Ligure (1 night)
5. Cinque Terre (1 night)
6. Florence (2 nights)
7. Rome (4 nights) – To include a day trip Pompei

a. Does this look ambitious?
b. What steps can I take minimize the train tickets cost?
c. Do you have any suggestions what I can add or remove from the above?
d. From Paris, is it better to go to Interlaken first then to Lucerne or the opposite (Note: need to minimize the time to Italy post Switzerland) ?

Many thanks for your effort and great information. I eagerly look forward to your guidance.

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m happy to hear that this has helped, and I’m sure your trip will be excellent.

    I’d not heard of Santa Margherita Ligure, but it looks quite nice and is obviously on your way, so it should be a good stop. I don’t think your plan looks too ambitious. You’ll be moving pretty quickly between Paris and Rome, but I do think it’s worth doing that because those places are mostly compact enough to appreciate in a day or two. You might consider consolidating your first two nights in Italy by staying in one place and seeing the other during the day. Santa Margherita Ligure is only 54 minutes from Vernazza (the most famous Cinque Terre town) by train, and really the train ride through that area is a big part of the appeal of going there.

    If you leave Interlaken early enough, you could even stop for a couple hours in Santa Margherita Ligure and then head into the Cinque Terre for the evening, staying two nights. Or you could just stay two nights in Santa Margherita Ligure and see the Cinque Terre by day. That would be nicer so you don’t have to keep packing and checking into and out of hotels.

    For the cheapest train tickets, buy them online as soon as possible. Here’s my article on how to buy cheap European train tickets online. The ticket from Lucerne to Interlaken will be the same price no matter when you buy it, and it’s the same with the tickets for the trains through the Cinque Terre. But for all of your long distance trains, the fares start out low and the price goes up as more seats are sold. If you buy soon, you’ll be surprised at how cheap some of them are, especially in Italy.

    I’ve already answered “c” above.

    You can get from Interlaken to Genoa in 5 hours and 11 minutes if you leave a bit after 7am, and it takes a bit over 6 hours from Lucerne to Genoa. So it doesn’t matter too much, and the ride through the Alps has excellent scenery. The departures from Interlaken are only fast at certain times of the day, while from Lucerne you can leave almost any time. Check out the options and fares on, which is the Swiss rail site.

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

Sanjeev says:

Hi Roger,

I saw this site and was amazed how you actually took the time to reply to people’s queries. I am trying to plan a trip to Europe for my daughter’s 15 years. Her birthday is in July but since her brother is only a month old right now, we decided to plan the trip during the December holidays rather than in July, so that the baby would be about 7 months old. My daughter wants to do Paris, Italy, Croatia and Greece (more specifically Santorini). My wife and I would like to put about 3 days in Munich as well. We have about 22- 24 days max for the trip.

Here is what I was thinking:

Paris – 3 nights
Venice – 1 night
Florence – 2 nights
Sorrento – 2 nights (day trip to Pompeii and Capri)
Rome – 3 nights
Santorini – 2 nights
Athens – 2 nights
Munich -3 nights
Prague – 1 night
Paris -2 nights

I don’t think we could fit Croatia in the itinerary. It already seems too much. Would appreciate if you could let me know what you think of the itinerary. And also if we should take places off the list or add some. What would be the best way to travel to Greece? And at what part of the trip would it be better?
I am a little apprehensive because we will be traveling with a 7 month old baby. Do you foresee any problems with that?

I gratefully look forward for your comments and guidance.

    Roger Wade says:


    For some strange reason, I really love trying to help people with itineraries and such, so I’m happy to give it a go.

    Your plan looks quite solid as it is, although it is fairly rushed. The main issue I’m seeing is that some of these places are very seasonal, and December is not ideal for those. The good news is that Europe’s cities are obviously designed to work at 100% all year round, especially with subways and other public transport that goes in any weather. Most attractions in Europe’s larger cities are indoors, and the weather even in December is usually mild enough that walking around for a few hours a day is enjoyable, as long as you have warm clothes with you.

    The bad news is that Greece and Croatia are very seasonal, so it’s good that you’ve already set Croatia aside. Athens itself is obviously a large city, so 2 days there would be okay, although climbing the Acropolis and walking the Agora would be less enjoyable if it’s cold and a bit wet. The bigger problem is that the islands practically shut down from November until April. Santorini and the other larger ones will still have some hotels and restaurants open, but there will be maybe 10% of the people there as you’d see in summer. Most of the smaller islands literally do close down for the cold months, with only a few locals remaining and no ferry service.

    In other words, I’d save Greece for a future trip, and Croatia as well. That would give you 4 more nights for the other places on your list, and I’d add at least 1 or 2 to Prague. You could add a day or two in Italy, although you could enjoy what you have planned there now. You could also do 2 days in Vienna or Salzburg on your way from Prague to Paris at the end. Both of those cities are wonderful, and would still be good in December.

    I think traveling with a 7-month old will be just fine in Europe’s cities. More than any other place I can think of, Europe is very advanced when it comes to strollers and changing rooms and ease of use on public transportation for infants. Also, Italy in particular has a reputation for loving young children, so you’ll probably get some extra attention while you are there.

    Let me know if you have any other questions, and I’ll be happy to help you sort out the best itinerary if you are okay with saving Greece for the future. -Roger

      Sanjeev says:

      Thank you so much Roger! Your inputs have be tremendously helpful. I will take your suggestions and leave out Greece for another trip in the future and will add Lucerne and Interlaken in Switzerland instead. Also will add an additional night in Prague. Thanks for your time. I am sure you will be paid many times over for your wonderful service to fellow travelers in terms of a positive karmic energy surplus. Cheers!

AK says:

Hi Roger – wow! what a following you have!
I am originally from Germany but live in Boston now. I am planning to take my then 13 and 11 year old daughters next summer on an extensive Europe road trip (we go every summer but mostly to Germany and/or just one specific place). I was thinking to fly into Madrid, drive to Barcelona, then up the coast to Marseille and Nice – but then I am not sure whether to go through Provence or rather continue along the coast to Italy? Any thoughts you have would be really helpful as well as some specific small idyllic towns you know of along the way. We really have as much time as we need for the trip but I am not sure – looking simply at the map – what towns to go to…… again any comments are appreciated – thank you so much!! AK

    Roger Wade says:


    This sounds like a wonderful trip you are planning, and unfortunately I won’t be of much help. I’ve traveled extensively in much of Europe, but in France I’ve mainly spent time in Paris and the other popular places for foreign tourists. As a result, I won’t be confident in giving you specific advice on where you might try, although I do envy you. In fact, I’ll be in Normandy for the first time in about a month, and I plan to explore other areas of France shortly after that (I’m an American, based in London at the moment).

    If you haven’t lived in the US long you might not be familiar with travel writer Rick Steves. I would highly recommend getting his current France guidebook (paper or digital) and scanning the appropriate chapters for advice. One of the things he does best is that he goes pretty much everywhere and then only writes about the most worthwhile places, including small towns that aren’t on many other lists. If you use a guide such as Lonely Planet (and I’m a fan of theirs as well), they tend to have a small section on nearly every notable town, so it’s much harder to know which are really the stand-out ones.

    Since you are from Germany (where my family is from as well), at least you know that most of the small coastal towns in France are not well set up for car visitors. But as far as I’m aware, the wine regions and other inland destinations are quite car friendly. Have a great trip and I wish I could have been more help. -Roger

Biri says:

Dear Roger,

Let me compliment you for an excellent and a very ‘user-friendly’ article, especially for first time visitors like me. I have following queries :-

1 Roger! I,my wife and my three year old son are planning for 16 days (including travel time) trip to France -Italy and Switzerland (My wife is keen)/ Spain (I am Keen), so could you advice what is the best option in your opinion??

2.Is it possible also to include one of the most recommend destination spot for Switzerland.(To avoid clash of opinions between self and wife)

3. I am planning trip from 25 Sep to 10 Oct. is it a good time to visit t all these places?.

4. Could you advice which is the better place to start from (Paris or Rome) keeping the above mentioned dates in mind??

5. My budget is modest. So your advice is even more critical in our planning.

Please advice us and resolve the conflict:)


    Roger Wade says:


    I’m happy to try to help, and thank you for the kind words. This is a tricky situation though. On one hand, Switzerland has the most dramatic and beautiful scenery in Europe, and you can have a really nice visit there in as few as 3 days. The downside is that Switzerland is also very expensive on a per-day basis, even compared to France and Italy. So those 3 days in Switzerland would be amazing, if a bit expensive.

    Spain is obviously very different. The most basic trip to Spain that I’d recommend for a cultural traveler would be 3 nights in Barcelona and 3 nights in Madrid. They are both large cities filled with great sights, and they are very different from each other. They are both about the same price as France and Italy, so they are not exactly cheap. So if you already want to visit France and Italy, you really won’t have 6 days to also visit Spain. If you tried to do all 3 countries in 2 weeks, you’d be racing around and only seeing maybe 50% of what you flew all that way to see.

    In other words, Switzerland would be much easier to work into your itinerary, and still have enough time to see Paris, Venice, Florence, and Rome. As mentioned in the article above, I recommend 3 or 4 nights for Paris, 1 or 2 nights for Venice, 2 or 3 nights for Florence, and 3 nights for Rome. Spain is a wonderful country and even those two cities are just scratching the surface, so I vote for saving Spain for another trip when you have more time. The rest of Spain also is more reasonably priced, so it’ll be a pretty cheap trip when you get there.

    The best short visit to Switzerland is to head to the Interlaken area. I explain it in fine detail in my article about where to go in Switzerland.

    Late September and early October is a perfect time to visit all of these places, and hotel prices will be down a bit from their summer peaks as well. Let me know if you have any other questions and I’ll be happy to help. Sorry to side with the wife on this one. 🙂 -Roger

Biri says:

Thanx Roger! Thanx for resolving the conflict. Will surely keep Spain for next trip with more duration in Spain:)

Continue with your good work!!

Best Rgds, Biri

Carolyn says:

Hi Roger – Headed to Europe for 10 days at end of August and returning Labor Day. We fly in to London and we have the end of the trip set for Dublin for 3 nights. The in-between is what I would like your thoughts on. I’m thinking Italy – Rome, Venice or actually somewhere in Italy out of way of the millions of tourists. Been to Paris, been to Barcelona, been to Florence – but not Rome or anywhere along Mediterranean. Thinking we would fly from London to Rome or SouthernItaly and then return fly to Dublin for our last 3 nights. I’m wide open for suggestions –

    Roger Wade says:


    This sounds like a great trip. Nearly all of my experience in Italy is in the popular tourist cities, so I’m not a great source for smaller non-tourist towns. I’ve heard that the Puglia area in the south is nice and doesn’t get much tourism, but I haven’t been there myself.

    Of the places I have been I’ll highly recommend Sorrento and the area around it. You definitely have to spend about 3 days in Rome, but it’s quite chaotic so I wouldn’t stay longer than that. After that you can take the high-speed train down to Naples and then the Circumvesuviana to Sorrento. It’s explained in the article above, but the highlights are that Sorrento is an ideal base for day trips to Naples and Pompeii, as well as the isle of Capri, and the Amalfi Coast. Sorrento will be busy in August, but nothing like Florence or Venice. You could even stay a bit out of town and take the bus in, or the same train 1 or 2 stops into the center. Sorrento is probably my favorite city in Italy to relax in rather than sight-see. You can then fly from Naples to Dublin for a reasonable fare. I hope this helps. -Roger

Ireene says:

Hi! I am so grateful to have come across your site as i find it very informative especially for me who plans to have a first time 2-week visit to Europe. I hope you would find time to answer my queries.
First of all, we come from the Philippines. My husband is a SG citizen and I am a Filipina – so what are our visa requirements? When would be the best time of the year for us to travel? could you help us out with the itinerary? WHat about accomodations and means of transportation from one city to the other? How much, roughly, would we spend for the two-week tour?
Thank you very much in advance as this would surely help us decide whether or not to push trough with the trip.

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m happy to hear that this site has been helpful. Unfortunately I can’t help you with visa requirements, as I’m an American myself (currently living in London) and it’s different for every nationality. You should be able to find out by Googling it though, or on for any country you want to visit.

    In my opinion, the best months to travel to France or Italy are April, May, September, and October. In those months you get pleasant weather that isn’t scorching, and smaller crowds and lower hotel rates. In June through August it’s crowded, more expensive, and often hot. And in the winter months the weather isn’t very pleasant, although I still travel around Europe in the winter all the time. It’s just not ideal.

    As for your itinerary, the article above is specifically meant to help people figure out where they want to go and how long to spend in each place. It is literally all my best advice on this topic in one place. Once you have your basic plan down I can help with some of the details if needed.

    The train is the most pleasant (by far) way of getting from one city to another, though in some cases such as Paris to Rome, flying is better and cheaper. Once you have your general itinerary together, it should be easy to see where you’ll want to do the train. As for accommodation, if you click on the individual cities listed in the article above, you’ll find a link to “recommended hotels” in almost all of them. It’s hard for me to make specific recommendations without knowing your budget and tastes. So with the general recommendations, at least you can see the better neighborhoods and know how much the good places cost.

    In France and Italy you can count on spending at least US$200 per night for two people. You can get okay hotels starting at around US$100 a night in most cities, though better ones are more expensive. Usually breakfast is included. For lunch and dinner you can count on US$10 per person per meal as a low average. You can get some cheaper lunches, but you’ll probably want to do some nicer and more expensive dinners. And of course, things like hop-on, hop-off bus tours can cost US$20 to US$30 each, so attractions and activities can add up as well. You can get a good idea how much each city will cost by looking at the page for the city on this site. That is why I created them, such as this one for Paris and this for Rome. Have a great trip and let me know if you have more questions as your plan is coming together. -Roger

Bill W says:

Hey Roger,

My wife and I are landing in Paris on Oct 8 at 9 am.. Here’s the itinerary I came up with.. Let me know if you think this is too aggressive.

Oct 8- Land in Paris 9:40 am —
Oct 9 – Paris
Oct 10 – Paris
Oct 11 – Leave Paris – Arrive Interlaken Switzerland afternoon
Oct 12 – Switzerland – Interlaken
Oct 13 – Switzerland morning then train to Venice.. Arrive Venice at 2pm..
Oct 14 – Venice
Oct 15 – Venice – leave AM.. arrive – Florence
Oct 16 – Florence to Rome
Oct 17 – Rome TO Amalfi
Oct 18 – Amalfi area
Oct 19 – Amalfi area
Oct 20 – Amalfi area
Oct 21 – Amalfi area
Oct 22 – Amalfi area
Oct 23 – Fly home – Naples

We are still considering skipping either Florence or Rome, but not sure which to skip, if at all…


    Roger Wade says:


    I think your itinerary looks quite good and not too aggressive, although it depends on your reasons for blasting through Florence and Rome so quickly. Rome in particular, and Florence to only a slightly smaller degree, are among the top tourist cities in the entire world. If you’ve already been there or you plan on going back there soon, then I think your plan looks great. However, if you haven’t visited them and might be doing the fastest possible visit because you are worried that they are too crowded or touristy, I’m not sure that is wise. But I’ll leave that up to you.

    The Amalfi Coast is primarily a string of summer beach resort towns in a gorgeous setting, so by the time late October arrives the season is winding down and it will probably be too chilly to sunbathe most days. Still, all of the restaurants and hotels will be open, and there will be plenty of people there, just not so many sunbathing or swimming.

    Either way, I’ll highly recommend Sorrento as your Amalfi base, for the reasons listed in the article above. It’s a wonderful town where most people speak English, and it’s the prime transit hub for the whole area. I really love it there.

    If you were thinking of skipping Florence or Rome and adding the remaining day to the other, definitely save Florence for the future and do 2 days in Rome. Sights like the Vatican, Ancient Rome, the Colosseum, and the Trevi Fountain are eye-popping and like no other place on earth. I’ll admit the Rome is crowded and hectic, but it’s also easily one of the world’s greatest cities to actually appreciate in person at least once. It’s also beautiful. As always, let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      Bill says:

      Thank you so much for all the advice! You make some great points about rushing through Rome / Florence. I think we will cut a day from Amalfi and add it to Rome. Do you think a day trip in Florence would be a total waste of time?
      The chances of my wife and I getting back to Italy in the near future are slim..
      Thanks again!

        Roger Wade says:


        If you are talking about doing Florence as a day trip from Rome, it would not be a waste at all and it would be easy to do. On one hand, Rome is so packed with top sights that you might not want to go to Florence. But if you do want to do it, the train journey is only 76 minutes each way, and tickets are quite cheap if you buy them well in advance.

        Better still, all of Florence’s main attractions are within a fairly short walk of the train station. The famous cathedral is about a 10-minute walk or even less. You could plan on spending maybe 5 or 6 hours in Florence and you’d have time to see the main things, wander around town a bit, and even have a Tuscan lunch. Rome really takes 3 nights (2 full days) to see even the main highlights. If you have more than that, then a day in Florence would be great. -Roger

DB says:

Hi Roger, thanks for such helpful guides! I’m planning a trip to Europe in October this year with my partner and two five-year old twin girls. We’re flying from Australia to Dublin, travelling EU a bit, then exiting Dublin for Australia again (20 nights in total).

I’d love to see so much but we don’t want to cram too commuting in for the kids sake. I’ve always wanted to travel to Berlin, so that’s high on the list. The hard decision is tossing up where to go next. Considering: Rome vs Paris vs Venice (vs some other amazing sounding destinations friends have recommended including Bari, Polignano di Mare, Matera, Sintra).

I’m wondering what the weather will be like in France vs Italy in October and how that should inform our decision – we’d like to spend more time outdoors, walking around/picnicking in scenic places/parks/playgrounds etc. So if it’s likely to be cold/wet in Paris in October, perhaps Rome is the better option?

I’ll list my potential itinerary below, if you have any advice/feedback that would be much appreciated. We’re looking at AirBnBs for accommodation.

Arrive in Dublin 3 October

Dublin: 3-6 October
Berlin: 6-13 October
Venice: 13-15 October
Paris: 15-20 October
Dublin: 20-23 October
Depart Dublin for Melbourne 23 October

    Roger Wade says:


    First off, it looks like you are spending 6 total nights in Dublin, which is a lot. To be honest, Dublin is a nice town that you can see in two days or so, but the rest of Ireland is amazing and gorgeous. Most others agree that the magic of Ireland is in the small towns and countryside and natural sights, and that Dublin is not a place to linger in.

    Berlin is a large city, but I don’t think I’d stay a week there. In 4 days you will be able to see everything that interests you, and if you stay longer you’d be visiting sights that are low on your list.

    The weather in October in both Italy and France will be great so you could choose either and really enjoy it. It’s only from December through March when it gets quite chilly and sometimes unpleasant. Italy is a bit warmer most of the year, but both will be very nice for sightseeing and outdoor things.

    You have enough time to visit Rome for 3 days and Florence for 2 days if you spend less time in Berlin and Dublin. And still have 4 nights or so in Paris. I was just in Paris again yesterday morning, and you can see all the highlights in 4 days or even 3. Let me know if you have any other questions, and I’ll be happy to help. -Roger

DB says:

Hi Roger, I posted earlier today but have re-thought our itinerary, as deciding between Paris OR Rome seemed too hard. Here’s my new plan:

2 nights: Mon 03 Oct – Wed 05 Oct

5 nights: Wed 05 Oct – Mon 10 Oct

2 nights: Mon 10 Oct – Wed 12 Oct

4 nights: Wed 12 Oct – Sun 16 Oct

5 nights: Sun 16 Oct – Fri 21 Oct

2 nights: Fri 21 Oct – Sun 23 Oct

As I said before, we’ll be travelling with two five-year-old girls so don’t want to be in transit too much. I would love to do some train travel, which could double as down-days for the kids (to sit and watch movies all day). I think though, with this schedule, perhaps the only reasonable distance to travel by train would be between Venice and Rome? Any thoughts on the route/schedule would be much appreciated.

Thanks again!

    Roger Wade says:


    Ah, I just saw this one. This looks much better. Honestly, you could do 4 nights in Paris, 3 nights in Rome, and 2 nights in Florence, and you’d see everything. The train rides in Italy are all fast and short, so you can still do plenty of sightseeing on travel days. If you want to skip Florence, that would be fine too, but it’s one of the “Big 3” in Italy for a reason. Also, Rome is an amazing place filled with amazing sights, but it’s also crowded and fairly stressful. My recommendation is 3 nights there, which is enough to see the highlights, without staying so long that it gets overwhelming. Feel free to write back if you have more questions. I’m sure this trip will be great. -Roger

Vilma Ochoa says:

Hi Roger,

Thank you for all these wonderful tips. My mom and I are planning to go to Paris and Italy this coming November. I am trying to do my itinerary but we are going only for 11 days. I was planning to fly to Paris, spend 2 nights then fly to Italy but I am not sure if this is going to be expensive or should I take a train? Which one? I would like to go to Florence, Venice, Milan and Rome. Then from Rome fly back to US. What are your thoughts? I would like to visit Nice but I think the weather is not going to be good to visit Nice maybe next time. Thanks.

    Roger Wade says:


    First off, I’d recommend at least 3 nights in Paris. It’s very large, beautiful, and packed with excellent sights. If you book early you can get cheap flights from there to Italy (save Nice for a future trip when it’s warmer). As you can see in the article above, Milan is sort of an optional stop, and many people skip it. So you could do 3 nights in Paris, then fly to Venice for 1 or 2 nights and then take a train to Florence for 3 nights and then 3 nights in Rome before you fly home. That would be a fantastic and well paced trip. You could include one night in Milan, and the historic center is interesting, but most of it is kind of a generic “big city” and far less charming than the others on your list. Let me know if you have any other questions and I’ll be happy to try to help. -Roger

Maria Tomoro says:

Hi Roger,
We are planning our Europe trip for August 2017 and here is our itinerary for 2 weeks:
Oakland to London: 8/11 then from Lindon I want to straight to Paris and start our vacation there.
Paris 8/11-8/14 then train to Milan for 1n, then Milan to Venice 1n, Venice to Florence 1n then to Rome for 3 nights then fly back to London and spend 3n there, what do you think of this itinerary? I want to also know what kind if train tickets I should purchase in advance. To see main attactions in each city where do I purchase it? Thank you so much

    Roger Wade says:


    Your plan could work, but I don’t think I’d recommend doing 3 one-nighters in a row like that. First off, Paris to Milan takes about 7 hours by train, so by the time you got to Milan you’d be pretty tired (weirdly enough) and you’d only have a couple hours to look around before dinner. And the following morning you’d check out and be off again. The trains to Venice and then to Florence are around 2 hours each, but still it’s exhausting when you are checking in and out of hotels every day, and hard to see much.

    What I’d recommend would be to skip Milan, which isn’t nearly as interesting as the other cities anyway, and fly from Paris to Venice (or nearby Treviso). Venice is compact enough (and so crowded) that 24 hours is an ideal visit. Then take a train to Florence and spend 2 nights there, and then 3 nights in Rome. Then fly to London for those last 3 nights.

    From London to Paris you’ll take the Eurostar train, and tickets are fairly cheap if you buy about 3 months in advance. That train ticket from Paris to Milan or Venice would actually be more expensive than a flight, so book a flight as early as possible for the lowest fare. Then those tickets within Italy are fairly cheap, and will be even cheaper if you book them on the official Italy rail site about 3 months in advance.

    For sightseeing, you can obviously buy tickets for each sight when you get there, but if you want to see the most famous and popular attractions in a fairly short amount of time, you might consider buying a London Pass, Paris Pass, and/or Rome and Vatican Pass. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      Maria says:

      Hi Roger thank you so much for your informative info we really appreciate it, I have another question. How far is Venice (VCE) Marco Polo to Venice surrounding area. I found a flight from there to London. Also I I to buy the train ticket from London to Paris Eurostar how long can I use that train ticket? I am also thinking of doing Air bnb for hotel where is the best area to stay in Paris. Rome? Beside leaning tower of Pisa what else to see in Florence? Thank you thank you!!

        Roger Wade says:


        Venice Airport is fairly close to Venice Island, and it takes about an hour there on a bus and then a ferry.

        Eurostar tickets are like airline tickets in that you are paying for a specific seat on a specific departure. They sell them 6 months in advance, and if you buy shortly after they go on sale they will be fairly cheap.

        My favorite neighborhood in Paris is Rue Cler, which is a wonderful little village sort of area next to the Eiffel Tower. But there aren’t many Airbnbs there, as I just discovered when I was there again a few weeks ago. There are more in another convenient neighborhood called Le Marais, which is just north of Notre Dame Cathedral. There are also more affordable airbnbs in the Montmartre neighborhood, which is a bit less central, but really fun and nice because it’s lively in the evenings.

        In Rome there are many good accommodation neighborhoods. I have an article with recommended Rome hotels, and on that there is a map that shows the ones that are convenient and central.

        Pisa is about an hour from Florence, so a day trip takes a half a day before you are back. Florence is loaded with its own attractions, so you may not want to take the time to see the tower in Pisa. I can’t give specific recommendations, but if you check any online guide or guidebook you’ll find many excellent things to see. Have a great trip. -Roger

          Maria tomoro says:

          Hi Roger just wondering do you a specific hotel in venice that is close by train and water taxi. thanks!

che says:

HI Roger,

will be travelling to France/Italy this dec 11-dec30. Will be starting and ending the trip in Paris. Was hoping you can give suggestions for itinerary. Like which cities to visit first – Few days paris then train or fly to other cities and end up spending christmas in Rome.

Will be traveling with my 73yr old Mom so thats smething to consider in the planning 🙂



    Roger Wade says:


    With 19 days like that you can see quite a bit of both countries. I’d suggest spending at least the first 4 nights in Paris. One tricky thing about the rest of France is that it’s better suited to warmer weather. The Med coast around Nice is lovely, but much of it will be hibernating for those months. And the same is true of many wine regions and small towns. So I’d fly from Paris to Venice, and spend the rest of your time in Italy.

    Spend maybe 2 nights in Venice and then take a train down to Florence for at least 3 nights. You could spend even more if you want to do a day trip to Pisa or the hill towns. I wouldn’t recommend the Cinque Terre that time of year either.

    After Florence you can take a train to Rome and stay there until Christmas. Then on the 26th you can take a train down to Naples and then the local train down to Sorrento, and use Sorrento as a base to see the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii and a day trip to Naples itself. Sorrento is a lovely town that is easy to visit, so it makes for a great base. Then you can take the Circumvesuviana train back to Naples and fly to Paris from there, or take another train to Rome and fly from there if you get a better fare.

    Very little of that itinerary will be much of a challenge for a 73-year-old. Even Pompeii is mostly flat and easy to walk in an hour or so. Have a great time. -Roger

Romi says:

Hi Roger,

I find your feedback and advice for travelling through Europe very informative and practical. We are a family of four.2 Adults and 2 children who are 12 and 8 years old.I have made a rough itinerary for 3 weeks.Your thoughts please?
17th June Singapore to Rome
Rome for 2-3 nights
Train to Florence for 3 nights
Train to Venice for 2 nights

Overnight train Venice to Zurich
Stay Zurich for 2-3 nights
Train Zurich to Lucerne 1-2 nights
Interlaken 2-3 nights
Easier to get a flight Geneva to Paris so can then travel from Interlaken to Geneva by train.
Could stay in Geneva for one night before flight.

Fly Geneva to Paris staying 4-5 days.
Paris to Singapore.
Have I packed in too much? Given the age of my children I thought it may be doable.

    Roger Wade says:


    It’s a busy itinerary, but you should be able to do this or something very much like it and enjoy it all. The only thing I’d recommend is that you limit Zurich to one night at most, or just a day trip. It’s very expensive and the sights are uninspiring. On the other hand, the area around Interlaken and Lucerne are among the most dramatic sights in Europe, so spend your extra time in those places.

    Also, you can take a train from Geneva to Paris in 4 hours and 40 minutes, so it’ll be faster than flying when you include the airport transportation on both ends. If you buy the train ticket in advance it’ll probably be about the same price as a flight as well, and it’ll be a hundred times more scenic and pleasant. Actually, Geneva has a scenic location on a lake, but the city itself is a dud. I’d recommend staying in Bern for a night if you want to visit a Swiss city, or just take a train all the way from Lucerne or Interlaken to Paris. It’s a gorgeous and scenic train ride.

    Let me know if you have any other questions. I’m sure it’ll be a great trip. -Roger

      Romi says:

      Hi Roger,

      Thank you so much for getting back to me on my queries!You have no idea what a great help you are doing to people fumbling with their travel plans 🙂 Thanks again.
      I have re looked my itinerary and wish to spend more time in Rome and Paris. I have incorporated the changes you have mentioned about Zurich.Can we travel from Venice to Lucerne and make Lucerne as our base in Switzerland doing trip to Zurich? I could then skip Geneva and leave to Paris from Lucerne. My itinerary is
      6 days in Rome
      2 days in Florence
      2 days in Venice
      We would love to see Cinque Terre. Please suggest the best route to get there ? Was thinking of a day trip from Florence. Have you got a better idea?
      3 days Lucerne, Zurich
      2 days Jungfraujoch
      We want to give Interlaken a skip as we would like more time in Paris. 4 days in Paris
      Home sweet home!
      Any advice for visiting Jungfrajoch? Also what are our chances to see snow clad mountains in June and July in Zurich and Lucerene?
      Sorry I have loaded with too many questions.
      Thanks again

che says:

Hi Roger,

First of all Kudos for your wonderful and helpful site. I admire the patience
you put in answer everyone’s queries meticulously. I’m sure you have made thousands of people’s vacation a wholelot better and enjoyable because of your knowledge, experience and expertise 🙂

I will be traveling with my 73yr old mom this dec 12-30. My initial itinerary is as follows:

dec 12-17 paris
dec 17-19 nice ( unsure if i should take train or flight from paris-nice)
dec 19-20 venice
dec 20-22 florence
dec 22-28 rome
dec 28-30 back to paris until departure

please feel free to comment and even omit unecessary stops or add better travel options.

Thanks Roger 🙂


    Roger Wade says:


    You’ll see that I answered your previous comment as well. I’ll add a couple more thoughts here. As mentioned, I’m on the fence about visiting Nice in winter. You could take trains to get there and then to Venice afterward, and I think you’d enjoy it. It’s just that Nice is sort of a summer holiday city, and you don’t get the real vibe of the place in the winter months when much of the outdoor part of Nice is shut down. But again, it is a nice place with great food so as long as you keep the above in mind, I still think you’d enjoy it.

    And Rome is kind of a hectic city, which will be busy during Christmas with probably high hotel prices. It’s the kind of city that you’ll love while you are there and you’ll never forget, but not the kind of place you want to linger in. So I usually recommend people spend 3 or maybe 4 nights there, and then move on to the more relaxed places such as Florence or Sorrento. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Ushma says:


Fantastic itinerary which almost matches ours 🙂 Really appreciate your genuine replies to every comment and question.

We are planning a trip for 14 days to both these countries and the places we plan to visit are:
Paris(4 nights)
Nice(2) – attending the nice carnival & visit to Monte Carlo
Florence(2)- including pisa
Amalfi-positano(2)- including capri tour
Rome (2)
Milan – half a day and return flight to Mumbai.

Q1. We would be there from Feb 20 – March 6. How would the climate be in both these countries? Considering it is the off season, anything to worry about or any tips to be be prepared for?

Q2. I am fretting that the 14 days would not be enough.. and its our wedding anniversary so want this to be perfect. Should we extend the trip? p.s. the tickets are already booked… n now i m worried!!

Q3. We have planned 2 nights in amalfi? would that suffice?

Q4. What would be your take on the hot water springs in Florence. Is it worth the visit?

Q5. We are both above 26 and will opt for II class train travel all over, should we opt for the eurail pass or just book point to point tickets? (After reading above comments, i m not sure if Eurail would save a lot of money)

Looking forward to your guidance! 🙂

    Roger Wade says:


    I’ll be happy to try to help.

    Q1. It’ll be quite cool in these countries in late February and all of the beach places will be partly closed for the season still. Amalfi will be very quiet, although it’s still a nice place to see in the cold months.

    Q2. I think 2 weeks is pretty much ideal for this. You’ll be moving pretty quickly and seeing a lot, so after 14 days of that you’ll be tired of sightseeing and such. And you are seeing all the highlights of both countries, so you’ll be fine.

    Q3. Instead of staying in Amalfi I’d recommend staying in Sorrento and visiting Amalfi by bus or hiring a car and driver. Amalfi and Positano will be very quiet that time of year, but Sorrento will still be quite lively and it’s a wonderful town on its own. It’s also much easier to reach, so your day trip will be easy.

    Q4. I haven’t done the hot springs in Florence so I can’t really say.

    Q5. Particularly for the shorter train trips within Italy, they are quite cheap, and especially if you buy in advance. A Eurail Pass is only ideal for longer trips where you want flexibility. Buy your train tickets about 2 months in advance online from the official and (Italy and France, respectively) and you’ll find that tickets are cheap.

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

Cecilia Famador says:

Hi Roger,
Me and my niece, 23 of age, are palnning to travel Europe from Japan from Dec 27 to Jan 7
Dec 27 arrive Rome at around midnight but we plan to start the tour at
Naples (2 days)
Pompei (1 day)
Rome ( 3 days)
Floence (2 days)
Milan (1 day)
Nice ( 1 day)
France (1 day)
Paris (2 days)

Planning to purchase Eurail, do you think it will be cheaper with it? How much do you think it will cost us?!

Thanks and regards
Cecilia Famador

    Roger Wade says:


    Train tickets in Italy are surprisingly cheap, especially if you buy them at least a month in advance. And since you have a tight schedule it makes sense to buy all of your tickets as soon as you are sure of your itinerary. The tickets into France and then within France will be a bit more expensive, but still they will be cheaper online than buying a Eurail Pass. Buy ASAP from the official rail websites of each country for the lowest prices.

    Your itinerary looks like you’ll be moving quickly so you’ll be spending a lot of time on trains. If I were you I think I’d do as few of those 1-day stays as possible because it usually means arriving in the late afternoon and leaving again the following morning, so you have almost no sightseeing time.

    I’ll also recommend that you spend those first three nights in the wonderful town of Sorrento. It’s about an hour from Naples by train, and about 30 minutes from the Pompeii ruins on the same train. The main thing is that Naples is kind of a “gritty” city with virtually no green space and more of a pickpocketing problem than almost anywhere else in Europe. Sorrento, on the other hand, is lovely and very tourist friendly, plus it’s close to Naples, Pompeii, Amalfi Coast, and Isle of Capri.

    The train tickets within Italy will average maybe €20 to €30 if you buy them in advance. Is that what you were wondering about? Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Jennifer Liu says:

Hi Roger,
My husband , me and my son, 13 of age, are palnning to travel Europe from Japan from Dec 23 to Jan 8 for 16 days. I am very excited about our 1st trip to Europe….and really lucky to know your website qw well!!
Dec 24 arrive in London in morning , since it is winter time and plus the christmas holiday. I am not sure about the stops due to weather condition in London & paris. Please help me take a look at it , thank you in advance!

London (3 days, 25th is the x-mas)
Paris (3 days,Eurostar train to Paris(2.5 hrs))
Nice ( 2 days, stop by Cannes)
Milan (1 day)
Venice ( 2 days)
Florence (2 days, stop by Pisa)
Rome ( 3 days, fly back to London in morning)

Should we add one more day in Paris , just do 2 days in London since it is expensive and cold? I am thinking to take the train to transport between each city and fly back from rome to London at last. Do you think this is a good plan, or we should take a plan between Paris to Rome, then going up to Venice? .I am trying to pucharse the train tickets once it nailed down. Really appreiciate your help!
Thanks and regards

    Roger Wade says:


    I think your itinerary looks very good as it is. The winter weather in London and Paris will be chilly, but it’s rarely below freezing or snowy, and most of the attractions are indoors anyway. I encourage you to keep the 3 days in London and Paris, as that is really the minimum stay to really be able to hit the main highlights of each.

    Nice, France is a slightly different story. It is a fairly large city with hundreds of thousands of residents, but it’s also a famous beach town so many of the best things will be hard to enjoy when it’s cold. In other words, I’m sure you’d enjoy it in winter, but you’d enjoy it MUCH more any other time of year. So you might consider saving it for another trip and flying from Paris to Milan. The train rides are pretty long from Paris to Nice and then to Milan, and the scenery won’t be great that time of year.

    The weather should be more pleasant in Italy, of course, so you could even extend your stay there. That is part of the flooding season in Venice, so it might not be ideal. Still, Venice is amazing (and fairly crowded) any time of year, so I definitely recommend you keep it on the list. You just might want to cut it to one day, depending on what you think about the flooding situation.

    Florence is really pleasant (as opposed to Rome, which is beautiful but kind of stressful), so it would be a good place to add a day or two. There are several other good day trips from Florence as well.

    So I think your plan works fairly well as it is. Think about my comments and you might change things just a bit. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      Jennifer says:

      Hi Roger, really thank you for your expertise. OK, I will cancel the 2 days at Nice, France. My husband mentioned about stopping by somewhere Switzerland. Do you suggest to visit geneva Switzerland since we have total 16 days? I don’t know about transportation between Paris – Geneva – Italy (Milan or Rome) , can we take scenery train between 2 countries ? which article I should read to learn more about travel between countries in Europe?

      Great thanks & Happy Holidays!

        Roger Wade says:


        I’m happy to help. Switzerland could be a wonderful addition to your trip, but I would not recommend Geneva or any other larger city other than perhaps Bern. I get this question a lot so I wrote a detailed article about where to go in Switzerland on a short visit. The short version is, head to the Interlaken area and also Lucerne if you have more than 2 or 3 days. But the weather in the Alps above Interlaken can be unpredictable in winter, so make sure you keep that in mind.

        If you do decide to include Switzerland then a train from Paris to Interlaken will be great, and the part once you reach Switzerland is very scenic. Then a train from Interlaken (or Lucerne) to Italy (Milan is the main transport hub in the north) is one of the most scenic train rides on earth.

        You won’t benefit from or need a rail pass of any kind. The further in advance you book your tickets, the cheaper they will be. The domestic trains in Switzerland only go on sale 30 days in advance and prices don’t change. But the international trains start off with cheap fares and get more expensive as more seats are sold. Here is an article about buying European train tickets in advance, with links to the official country rail sites that offer the best fares. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

          jennifer says:

          Dear Roger, I am so grateful that being helped from your website! I still wanna to take your suggestion go up to interlaken area by train. not sure if the winter time will be so foggy up there? and please help me take a look at my train schedule see if it make sense to you or not. On Jan1st morning, we are planning to take train fromBergamo to Milan to Switzerlan. I am not sure if we can take train from bergamo to milan than change to another train to Spiez ?? here is the time & table& link. 6:00am–6:50 bergamo-milano-centrale, 7:23am – 9:50am milan-spiez . So the half hour inside the milan central train station will allow us to catch the one to Spiez, correct? Please help! Thanks …Jennifer

          Roger Wade says:


          The weather can definitely be foggy near the peaks above Interlaken at any time during winter, but not all the time. So unfortunately it’s a bit of a gamble and it could go either way. Generally speaking, even if it’s foggy up top you can still appreciate the area and you’ll be blown away by most of what you see. But for trips like the Schilthorn cable car or the Jungfraujoch railway, it’s best to check the visibility right before you are ready to go. If it’s foggy up there it’s really not worth the considerable sums to go.

          As for the train schedule, that’s a mixed bag as well. The Italian trains have a deserved reputation for being late on a regular basis. A couple years ago I was sitting on a train in the Milan station about 10 minutes before it was scheduled to leave. It departed about 20 minutes late, even though it was just sitting in the station the whole time. On the other hand, Switzerland deserves its reputation for the most punctual train system in Europe.

          It looks like there is another Milan to Spiez train scheduled at 8:23am, requiring a change in Brig for the last segment, and then another direct train at 11:23am. All of them require reservations, but if the first one is late and you bought your tickets through the official Italy rail company, you should be able to get on the later ones. On a bright note, those early-morning trains tend to be more on time, so I’d say a 90% chance that you make it no problem. It’s the later trains that are late and cause delays on other lines that become a problem. Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Collin says:

Hi Roger,

My wife and I are planning a trip of about 16 days, end of March to early April, to Paris, Switzerland and Italy. We have found the info you have given here along with many other links that we have checked out as well, extremely useful! We have also read some of the comments here as well.

This is our tentative itinerary (very much like your suggestion). We hope to get your opinion, like if we should adjust the length of stay in any of these place etc.
Paris – 3 nights
Switzerland – Interlaken 2 nights, Lucerne 2 nights
Milan – 1 night
Venice – 2 nights
Florence – 2 nights (with a day trip to Pisa)
Rome – 3 nights (KIV last night in Sorrento instead)

We read that you recommend purchasing the train tickets in advance instead of getting the rail pass, for 2 week trips like ours. These tickets are for travelling between the cities only though? Is walking the only way for us to get around within the city? Are cabs expensive?
We really appreciate your help! Thanks and Merry Christmas!

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m happy to hear that this information is helpful, as I enjoy researching and preparing it. I think your itinerary looks excellent.

    If you are going to spend half a day visiting Pisa from Florence then that doesn’t give you much time in Florence. You might consider only spending one night in Venice and 3 nights in Florence, but two and two will also be great. As I’ve written elsewhere, Venice is quite small, expensive, and crowded. But it’s also probably the most amazing looking city in Europe, so you won’t get bored on that second day.

    As for getting around within the cities, in Paris you’ll want to take the Metro (subway), which has stops every few blocks all over the city. It’s cheap and quite easy to use once you get there. You should also think about doing the hop-on, hop-off bus and even the Paris Pass. That bus is an excellent look at Paris and it stops near just about every major attraction.

    You can walk everywhere in Interlaken, and if you want to go into the nearby mountains you’ll take a train to Lauterbrunnen and then a bus and then a cable car up the mountain, all in one ticket. It sounds a bit confusing but it’s easy once you are there.

    Lucerne is small enough to walk everywhere, and you should also take a boat tour on the lake, which allows you to hop off and on at any of the stops.

    Milan has a Metro as well, but you can walk from the train station to the area around the cathedral, which is where the sights are all located. If you get a hotel somewhere within those areas you’ll be fine on foot.

    In Venice you’ll take a vaporetto (canal ferry) from the train station to the main island, and after that everything is easily reachable on foot.

    Florence is a larger, but all of the main sights are within walking distance of the train station, and most of the hotels are as well.

    Rome is much larger. There is a Metro that takes you to the Vatican and a few other places, but it’s not as useful as the one in Paris. Still, you can walk from the train station to many hotels and sights. Taxis are not too expensive there, and may come in handy. Let me know if you have any other questions. I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful trip. -Roger

      Collin says:

      Hi Roger,

      Wow you have listed down each city that we have mentioned in our itinerary and described how to get around them respectively! That’s just amazing. We had no clue. Thank you so much!
      After considering your recommendation for extending our Florence stay, we’re now thinking if maybe we should skip Milan and stay 3 nights in Florence instead. Initially though we thought of skipping Milan and spending 4 nights in Paris. Which option should we go for you reckon?
      With only 3 nights allocated for Rome, is it advisable to spend the last one at Sorrento instead to explore Naples/Pompeii/Sorrento/Amalfi Coast, as recommended? Would a daytrip from Rome instead, suffice? Or should we perhaps skip those places altogether and just explore Rome?
      Thanks so much for your help Roger!

        Roger Wade says:


        I’m happy to help. If you’ve got 3 nights in Paris and 2 nights in Florence, and you can add one night to one of those by skipping Milan, you can’t go wrong either way. I’d say adding the night to Paris might be the slightly better choice, but only if you’ve got a pretty long list of things you want to see and do there. Most people can see the main highlights of Paris in two busy days and three memorable evenings. Still, Paris is absolutely stunning and the food is amazing, so you’ll have a wonderful time on that extra day if you spend it there.

        You can see the main highlights of Florence in one full day and two evenings, but it’s also a great town with plenty to see, great food, and many very worthwhile day trips you can do, including Pisa and Cinque Terre, plus some Tuscan hill towns. I don’t know if I’m making this choice any easier.

        Maybe you can add a day to both because I really wouldn’t recommend Sorrento for 1 day. To get there you take a high-speed train to Naples and then a slow, suburban train for another 70 minutes or so. For stays of 2 to 4 nights it’s worthwhile because Sorrento is the best base to visit Naples, Pompeii, Amalfi Coast, and Capri. But to go in one day and back out the next wouldn’t allow enough time to do any of those, except for perhaps a stop at Pompeii. I’d save all of those for a future trip. So you could spend that extra day in Rome, but frankly I’d use that extra day in Florence and just do 3 nights in Rome. You can’t lose with any of these options. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Sameer says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks a lot for sharing the itinerary This really helped us build our itinerary. Me and my wife are planning for a trip to France and Italy. This will be our first trip to Europe. I was looking at some options and would like your suggestions.

First option

June 9 New Jersey to Paris
June 10,11,12,13,14 paris
June 15,16 nice
June 17,18 venice
June 19, 20,21 florence, pisa
June 22,23,24,25 rome
June 25 Rome to New Jersey


May 26 fly into Rome
May 27-30 Rome
May 31 – June 1,2 Florence
June 3,4 Venice
June 5,6 Nice
June 7,8,9,10,11 Paris
June 11 fly back to New Jersey

Which one would you recommend? Also, if you can add few more cities based on our itinerary which one would those be?

I have heard that May end would be good in Italy and not too crowded. Thanks in advance.

    Roger Wade says:


    From a weather perspective I think you’d be better off starting in Rome and ending in Paris. Rome can get extremely hot in summer, while Paris tends to be more mild. Also, shifting the whole trip a bit earlier like that will mean crowds are a bit smaller and hotel prices should be a bit lower as well.

    If you are looking for some smaller towns in France to make a stop in you might consider Avignon or Bourges, which are both in between Nice and Paris. In Italy you are covering the Big 3 with enough time in each. If you have at least 3 additional days I would recommend Sorrento in order to visit Naples, Pompeii, and the Amalfi Coast, as mentioned in the article above. I really wouldn’t recommend Cinque Terre in summer, as it’s so insanely crowded that its charm is hard to appreciate that time of year. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Bento Dsouza says:

Dear Roger,

Just been through your articles and found them very very helpfulI need your help as i plan to make a trip to Poland Krakow from Mumbai.I would be travelling with my wife and 8 year old child..Needed your expertise and guidance if possible for this tour of mine..Would plan to travel to Krakow for a week.

Looking forward for your assistance for my travel..
Bento Dsouza

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m glad to hear that this information is helpful. This is an odd article to get a question about a trip to Krakow, but I can help at least a bit. A week would be quite a long time to stay in Krakow. I’d say 3 to 4 days is enough for most people, even if you spend half a day visiting Auschwitz and half a day visiting the fun salt mine just outside of town. There is a new high-speed train connecting Krakow and Warsaw that takes only 2 hours and 20 minutes. You might head to Warsaw for 2 or 3 nights as part of your week. The historic part of Warsaw is beautiful and very worthwhile.

    If you are thinking about booking a package with a hotel and your activities and tours, I won’t be of much help. I almost always travel independently and most of the advice on this website is to help those who plan their trips themselves. With a good guidebook you can have a wonderful time in Poland and save quite a bit of money. Let me know if you have other questions I might help with. -Roger

Rachelle says:

Hi Roger,

Very informative page, thank you fr all the suggestions, we will be in Europe for 2weeks, from mid May until July, our in/out will be in Paris. Planning to fly to Italy to see the big 3, which do you suggest that we do first, rome to venice or vice versa? thanks Roger

    Roger Wade says:


    The weather in mid May in Europe should be glorious. By July it will be quite warm in Italy, but Paris usually has mild summers, although they do get heat waves. You can see the temperature and rain averages on the main Paris page on this site. -Roger

    From a weather standpoint it would be best to start in the south, so Rome first, and then head north as June and July approach.

Rachelle Sy says:

Hi Roger. thank you for such a detailed article about Italy and Paris. We will be travelling by ourselves in Mid May til June, Whats the weather be like by then? and what would you suggest, our in/out will be in paris then do you advice to travel from Venice to Roam or vice versa? thank you so much

    Roger Wade says:


    If you are going Rome to Florence to Venice then you’ll definitely want to go by train. From Venice it’s probably best to fly to Paris because the train takes a long time and is more expensive than flying. -Roger

Jason Taylor says:

We are planning a trip in mid June, covering 15 nights. We were trying to determine whether to incorporate a 7 night cruise, to make it like a vacation within a vacation and possibly see some sites we might not normally be able to. The cruise is in the middle, with approximately 4 nights before and 4 nights after. Cruise starts and ends in Rome, with stops in Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Cannes, Livorno and Naples. We would like to see the main attractions in Paris, Florence, Venice and Rome, but the cruise time may make that difficult. Three more nights would be great, but unfortunately we have time constraints. Do you have any thoughts on mixing in a cruise into this trip? Thank you!

    Roger Wade says:


    I think the idea of a cruise in the middle of a trip like this is excellent. Many people seem anxious to see as many cities as humanly possible on these trips, and a cruise is one civilized way of actually pulling that off.

    Barcelona is a huge and wonderful city, and a 10-hour stop there on a cruise isn’t nearly enough, but it will be a good taste. But for those other cities, I think a one-day cruise stop is pretty much ideal. Palma de Mallorca (I haven’t been there yet) is small enough to appreciate in a day. Cannes is even smaller, although it is interesting and worth a day there. Naples is quite a large city, but it’s also a place where many tourists don’t want to go at night, so I recommend doing it as a day trip from Sorrento anyway. If you can take a little tour and see the archeology museum, and perhaps make it to Pompeii as well, it will be a great day.

    Rome is ideal for 3 days and Paris is best for 3 or 4 days. You can actually see Venice in about 24 hours, and Florence is best in 2 or 3 days. It might be hard to do all of those, of course, with the cruise in the middle. But still I think the idea sounds really good and you can get back to whichever ones you pass up this time. Let me know if you have any other questions I might help with. -Roger

      Jason Taylor says:

      Hi Roger,
      Thanks so much for your reply. We decided against incorporating a cruise this time, and will save that for a future time when we include Greece. This time we are doing 4 nights in Paris, 1 night in Venice, 3-4 nights in Florence, 3-4 nights in Sorrento and 3 nights in Rome. I had two more questions…first, we have 7 nights to split between Florence and Amalfi coast. Do you recommend 4 nights in Florence and 3 nights in Sorrento? Or the reverse? Second, do you have any hotel recommendations in Sorrento? Two we have seriously considered are Hilton Sorrento Palace and Parco die Pricipi. I welcome your thoughts. thanks!

        Roger Wade says:


        It’s great that you’ll have so much time for Italy. Florence itself is worth two solid days. Pisa is a great half-day trip from there, and you can see a hill town in the other half a day. If you want to see the Cinque Terre, that will be another day, though it’s so crowded I really wouldn’t recommend it.

        Sorrento is mainly best as just a base city to see Pompeii, Naples, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast. If all of those things interest you (which they really should), then 4 nights in Sorrento would be ideal. Another nice thing is that Sorrento gets far fewer visitors at any given time, so it’s more relaxing than Florence (and FAR more relaxing than Rome).

        Both of those hotels look like fine places, but neither is particularly near the Sorrento town center or the main train station. The bus for the Amalfi Coast leaves from in front of the train station, and of course the trains to Pompeii and Naples leave from the train station, so staying in that area is easiest. The main town center is about 500 meters west of the train station, so if you stay in that area you’ll have the most restaurants and shops to choose from. That said, I’m sure there are restaurants in and near the other hotels, so if you prefer a larger chain hotel like that you should have a great time as well. -Roger

Binu says:

Hello Roger, wishing you a fantastic 2017

Fortunately I came across your page soon enough while planning for a euro trip. I can’t enough thanks a comprehensive yet crisp article useful for first time travelers to Europe like me. I thought I’d share a draft itinerary I came up with in the reverse order from 26 April to 13 May. We are traveling from Bangalore/India, the currency exchange is not quite favorable, so we’d like to stick to budget options where possible.

Could you comment on the itinerary?

23 april – Arrival at Rome
2 nights

Island of Capri
Amalfi coast
2 nights
Pisa ( option )
3 nights

Cinque Terre
1 nights

1 nights

3 nights

check in
5 may
check out
13 may
8 nights

Shouldn’t we spend some time exploring places in France? Lets say between Nice and Paris for couple of nights? 8 nights in Paris could be too many.

We bought Paris pass for four days, need to book accommodation and start rest of the planning.

Awaiting your comments and tips to make it a great experience, pretty excited planning the trip itself.

Thank you


    Roger Wade says:


    I’m glad you found this website as well. I’ll be happy to try to help.

    First off, I’d really recommend 3 nights in Rome if at all possible. It’s a very large city with so many important sights that you’d be missing many of the best ones if you did it in only 2 nights.

    Sorrento and the sights around it are really nice, but in only 2 nights you’d really only be able to pick one of the sights. To get from Rome to Sorrento and then from Sorrento to Florence, it would take most of the middle of each of those days. So you’d really only have one full sightseeing day for Pompeii or Amalfi Coast. In other words, you might save Sorrento for a future trip and stay 3 nights in Rome.

    Florence with a possible Pisa day trip in 3 days is good. You might also skip the Cinque Terre. Everyone says it’s gotten so crowded that it’s no longer enjoyable. In fact, the local authorities are talking about limiting visitor numbers to combat the problem. Honestly, they are just 5 small fishing villages and not really as special as their reputation suggests.

    Venice in one day is ideal, especially if you can spend close to 24 hours there. Three nights in Nice is also great, and it will take some time to get there from Venice.

    Paris for 8 days does seem too long. It’s a large and wonderful city, but after about 4 days you’ll have seen all of the sights that interest you most. The Paris Pass will be very helpful, so if you stay 5 nights in Paris you’ll have 4 full days to do everything, including a half-day trip out to Versailles.

    If you want to make more stops in France between Nice and Paris, you might consider Avignon and/or Bourges. Both of them are smaller towns with excellent sights. You could spend one night in them if you can get there by noon or so, or two nights if you arrive later than that. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      Binu says:

      Thanks a ton Roger, appreciate your help.

      We will extend our stay in Rome for one more night — as you mentioned in the article, we may never come back to this city.

      Will skip Cinque Terre – its a bit off route as well.

      We will try to cut a day from Florence and add one more night at Sorrento. Would that make sense?

      We will add Avignon and/or Bourges by cutting down two nights from Paris. We will try to do 5 nights in Paris including Versallis or Disneyland on 5th day or take one more day for Disneyland.

      Can’t thank you enough for your invaluable guidance – Roger.

      Thank you


      Binug says:

      Hi Roger, would it be possible to complete the visit of Pompeii on our way to Sorrento than going back to Pompeii on another day? Would it be a bad idea? I am thinking we can drop our baggage in a cloak room and spend 2-3 hours at Pompeii site. That way we get to spend one full day taking that Amalfi bus trip another day at Capri.

        Roger Wade says:


        Yes, I believe that would be a good idea. I don’t specifically remember if there are storage lockers or a left luggage desk, but I would think that there would be because of this exact situation. And fortunately, the entrance to Pompeii is maybe 300 meters from the train station. Pompeii really is a mind blowing sight, so it’s worth the trouble. -Roger

          Binu says:

          Thank you Roger, that was super quick. I have this confusion about travel time between Nice – Avignon – Paris. Google maps shows about 12 hours, rail Europe shows much less but it doesn’t show a fare to stop at Avignon. What would be best mode of transport from Nice to Paris including Avignon (what would be the travel time)?

          Thanks a ton!



Russell says:

Hi Roger, we are a family of 3, two adults and 15 yr old, and we are looking to travel to Italy, France and England in April this year from Melbourne Australia. We have not been to Europe before. We are looking to travel into Rome and start a 15 day holiday. Could you please give ideas for an itinerary including your thoughts on how to travel between destinations. Also, will we have issues finding moderately priced accomodation that will fit the three of us.. Love all the feedback you give and have really enjoyed reading the different holidays people are planning. Thanks Russell.

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m happy you’ve found this information helpful and entertaining. If you’ve got 15 days for those three countries, you’ll have plenty of time to hit all the highlights. Here’s what I’d do:

    Fly into Rome and spend 3 or 4 nights there. Normally I recommend 3 nights, but depending on when you get in and possible jet lag, a 4th night might be good. After that take the train to Florence for 2 or 3 nights. Then take a train to Venice for 1 night, as discussed in the article above.

    From Venice Airport or nearby Treviso Airport you can fly into Paris for 3 or 4 nights. From Paris you can take the Eurostar train to London where you’ll spend your last 3 or 4 nights. If you need to be back in Rome for your flight home you can book an early-morning flight for a low price out of one of London’s smaller airports. Or if you can book a flight into Rome and out of London, all the better. That gives you 12 to 16 nights worth of suggestions, so you can stay longer in several of those places, or perhaps add another place if you really want to.

    As for modestly price accommodation for 3 people, you should probably focus on Airbnbs or other apartment rentals. The hotel rooms in Europe’s largest cities tend to be frightfully small, often with just a bed and a bit of room to walk around it. In beach destinations it’s not too hard to find rooms with 3 singles or 1 queen and 1 single, but that is rare in the cities. But in apartment rentals you not only get more room, but often a sofa-bed or another small bed in another room. In April you should be able to find some good choices around €100 per night, or a bit more if you want to be in the heart of a tourist area. The one challenge with apartment rentals like that is that most of them are a bit away from the tourist heart. Still, in your case it will be worth it. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Russell says:

Thanks Roger. Appreciate your assistance.

Russell says:

Roger. I think i have finalised the travel plans. Could you please cast your knowledgable eyes over the itinerary and advise any changes you see necessary. If possible could you advise the must sees at each city within the days allocated. Thx Russell

Rome (Arrive Morning) 11,12,13,14 Leave On 14/4/2017
Florence (Morning/Lunch) 15,16 Leave On 17/4/2017
Venice (Morning/Lunch) 17,18 Leave On 19/4/2017
Paris (Lunch) 19,20,21,22 Leave On 23/4/2017
London (Lunch) 23,24,25,26,27 Leave on 28/4/2017

AngelaR says:

I am meeting my husband in Paris in April, first time in europ, I am interested in Paris and London, and I may be flying(leaving to come home from the Toulon airport). Originally I was thinking Paris London and Brussels, but I still think Rome, we only have 10 days, what would you recommend?? Looking at best way to travel, don’t mind the idea of the train, but don’t want to spend too much time on one. Thanks

    Roger Wade says:


    If you only have 10 days then you have enough time for Paris, London, and one other city. I highly recommend 3 nights in any city you visit, and 4 nights in London or Paris can be better if you have the time, though 3 will be good.

    So you’ll visit London and Paris for sure, and you’ll want to take the Eurostar train between them as it’s the fastest and most convenient way of going. Buy your ticket soon or as early as possible to get the best fare and most options.

    If you decide to go to Brussels then you can take a train from Paris or even a Eurostar from London. But honestly, I’m not a huge fan of Brussels, except for the compact city center around the Grand Place (main square). Brussels is mostly built for business travelers and government employees, so it’s expensive and there aren’t many great attractions. I prefer the smaller town of Bruges, which is just an hour away from Brussels by local train. You can take a train to Brussels and spend an afternoon there on your way to Bruges for the night.

    Another option is Amsterdam, which is far more interesting than the other two, and also a reasonable train ride from Paris (a bit over 3 hours). London, Paris, and Amsterdam make for a great trip and each is very different from the others.

    Rome is truly an amazing city to visit, so it might be your best bet since you are already interested in it. You could easily fly to and from Rome from either London or Paris. The train ride is too long and flying is cheaper anyway.

    By the way, I also have an article where I recommend visiting the 5 “greatest” European cities before visiting many others. That list includes London, Paris, Rome, Venice, and Amsterdam. So I’m sure you’ll have a great trip. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Thomas says:

Hello Wade! OMG! Thank you so very much for creating this and giving me and Many The opportunity to stimulat my Imagination. Thanks for sharing lots of great content, value with your specialized knowledge, giving lots of great suggestions and ideas to create the experience of a lifetime, with your blog, answers and recommendations.

The support, help, assistance I am wanting is for the experience of taking The vacation of a lifetime for my mom who will be 81 this year. She’s always wanted to go to Italy and so I actually. My grandfather, her father was born and raised in Naples. Because of this Naples of course is a must. I am in the beginning stages right now of planning and putting together our itinerary. We are going to Italy, Europe this September-October. I am thinking between 2-3-4 weeks is how long we will be there.

Because of my mothers age she really will not be able to walk for long periods of time without resting when she needs to,

I took 4 long pages of notes using a legal pad from your blog and answers to members of the community here. I was actually only thinking of investing a day or so in Paris for the Mona Lisa and The Eiffel Tower. Nice, Cannes, and Monaco might be a great addition.

Here are some musts that I want for us to experience in addition to Naples: The David in Florence, The Last Supper in Milan, The Mona Lisa in Paris, of course The Sistine Chapel and the Colosseum.

I’d love for us to at least take day trips to Assisi, Padua, The Amalfi Coast. Pisa might be really cool for a half a day trip.

My questions for you are: 1. if our vacation experience is 2, 3, or 4 weeks, what would you choose for our itinerary if it was yours?

2. I want for us to stay at Airbnb locations most of the time because I feel we will be able to receive an authentic traditional Italian, European experience like the locals. In the above mentioned choice cities, towns are you able to give suggestions as to what neighborhoods or parts of the town would be best for us to experience it? We will most probably be using the train most of the time getting from one location, town or village to the next. Using local buses and trains, Lyft, or Uber for closer locations

We would be departing from New York City and ultimate destination will be back in New York. In your opinion, guesstimate, what do you think the investment would be for this Italian, European experience, including airfare?

I was going to take her last year for her 80th birthday but when Italy had their first earthquake last year she says I’m not going anywhere I don’t care. I talked her into it.

My company is opening up 7 more countries, expanding internationally this year, we are opening up 5 countries, and I think , and will be 2 of the first European counties that will be opened, I think I will be able to write off this whole vacation, which is an added Bonus

Thank you so very much in advance for your time in response to my question.

In gratitude and Appreciation,

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m glad you found this website as well, and I’ll be happy to try to help. I’ll answer the questions in order…

    My advice is to stay 3 nights in nearly every city you visit. Paris is large enough that 4 nights is probably better. Rome is also quite large, but it’s also somewhat chaotic and I think 3 days is enough for most people, although 4 could be better because the Vatican takes nearly a whole day by itself. So when you are choosing the length of your total trip, I’d start with the cities you definitely want to visit and plan on about 3 nights in each. Then if you think the trip could be longer, you can add one or more cities that can easily fit on your existing route.

    2. One challenge with using Airbnbs in European cities like this is that it’s rare to find an apartment with a location in the tourist zone. In other words, you’ll find dozens of hotels clustered around the main train station and the main city squares and some of the tourist attractions, but an apartment rental might be half a mile from any of those things. And if there IS an apartment right near the main city square, it’s probably even more expensive than the nearby hotels.

    In Paris my favorite hotel neighborhood is Rue Cler, which is right next to the Eiffel Tower park. There are many hotels and almost no apartments around there. I have “Recommended Hotels” articles for most of those cities on this website, and you’ll see a link to each article in the middle column of each City page, such as this one for Paris. In those I discuss the neighborhoods I like best for hotels.

    As far as the total cost is concerned, that can vary wildly from one visitor to another. You should look at the totals I provide on the Europe 3-star traveler Index. Each one is an estimate of how much each city costs per person, per day, traveling with two to a room. Most cities are around US$100 per day, but that’s for staying in 3-star hotels and doesn’t include shopping. Your flights from NYC into Rome or Milan or Paris should run about US$700 per person round-trip in autumn, or maybe a bit higher if oil prices go up in summer.

    I might have missed some questions. Feel free to ask again or new ones if you have other specific questions before your trip. -Roger

Kathy says:

Hi Roger,
Could you please look over our itinerary and see what you think, any advise would be great. My husband and I have two weeks to visit France and Italy excluding travel time from Australia in September. We are thinking, fly into Paris 6 days, we would like to go for a surf as well so somewhere near Hossegor for 3 days, 2 day Monaco. 1 day sorrento /Amalfi coast and 2 days Rome then home. Thanks Kathy

    Roger Wade says:


    I’d recommend no more than 4 or 5 days in Paris since you have other places to see. That is plenty of time to see all of the top sights, and it will allow you more time elsewhere. I’d never heard of Hossegor, but if you are surfers I can see the appeal. It looks like the trains don’t get very close, so it might be tricky to reach unless you drive.

    From there it would be another very long trip to Monaco. Monaco is a gorgeous town that you can thoroughly explore in about 6 hours or so, and the hotels there are all very expensive. I’d recommend staying in Nice, which has much more affordable hotels and is about 20 minutes away from Monaco by train.

    It would then be another very long trip by train to southern Italy, so flying into Naples is probably best for your trip to Amalfi. You are really skipping around a lot and you might want to consider switching to some stops that are easier to reach from one another. The way it is now, you’ll be spending nearly an entire day getting from one place to another. Also, Rome is huge and packed with top sights, so I hope you can allow 3 days for it. I’ll be happy to help more so let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Tyrone says:

hi roger,

i will be booking 3 weeks off for travel in the fall when things tend to slow down in Europe, just wondering if you could give some advice on the top places to visit or how i could tweak my itinerary to see some amazing sights. I plan travelling from Portugal through Spain stopping in Madrid and Barcelona, then through the southern part of France(saving Paris for a separate trip with London) such as Montpelier, Marseilles, and nice. Then i would be off to Italy for the 2nd half of my trip heading from nice to Milan , to Venice to Florence, to Rome and possibly Naples if i have the time.

i would like to get a look into these 3 locations, but half of my trip will be spent in Italy, i have made a list of certain monuments , museums etc. id like to see but i’m sure you know of some amazing places you could give some insight on so i could tweak my itinerary to fit those in.

Thank, Ty



    My main suggestion for your trip is to plan on spending 3 nights in most of the places you visit. There are some smaller towns such as Venice where 1 or 2 nights is all you need, but nearly all of the others on your list will require 3 nights in order to experience the highlights. One issue is that a day that you travel from city to city will be mostly spent doing that rather than sightseeing, so you can’t really count it as a day there. That leaves two full days in each city to wake up and see and do as much as you can, and spend most of that third day traveling again. If you change cities after two nights then it’s really one day sightseeing followed by one day traveling followed by one day sightseeing and so forth. In other words, you literally spend half of your trip on trains and in train stations and walking to and from your hotel.

    Now, Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, and Naples are all within about two hours of each other by train, so you can get in some sightseeing on those travel days, but still, the process of checking out of one hotel up until you are checked into your next hotel and ready to go out will take 4 to 5 hours of the middle of the day even for the closest cities.

    With that in mind, Lisbon, Madrid, and Barcelona are all large cities that would require 3 nights. My recommendation for the absolute fastest visit to Italy is 24 hours in Venice, 2 nights in Florence, and 3 nights in Rome. So really you have to decide which places are most important to see on this trip. Marseilles, for example, isn’t much of a tourist city. That’s true about Milan as well, although it does have a few interesting things to see.

    Once you figure out how many stops you can make, then you can decide which places would fill those slots and be easy to reach from each other. I think you’ll be able to create a pretty good itinerary with that in mind, and I’ll be happy to offer comments if you are interested. Best of luck with this. -Roger

Sindy says:

Hi Roger, I love your site its exactly what I was looking for first visit to Europe. I’m from NY and I would love to have a really nice vacation with my family, however I’m concerned about my 6 yrs and 12 yrs old kids. My 16 yrs old daughter and I are really excited, but not sure if this trip will be worth it if my other 2 kids are not going to enjoy it as much as me. Do you think I should wait a few more years to make this trip or would be okay if I bring my little ones? In 2 years my older daughter would be going to college and I feel it would be harder for me to make this trip since saving money for college will be my priority.. Any advise will be greatly appreciate it. Thank you.



    I’m glad you find this information useful. I was born in Los Angeles to an American father and a German mother. I did my first tour of Europe in the summer when I was 4 and my second when I was 8. I barely remember anything from the trip when I was 4, but I remember quite a bit from the trip when I was 8. My family went again when I was 12, but at that age I didn’t feel like another trip would be more fun than staying home with my cousins, which is what I opted to do. In my case, those early trips were something I was always able to brag about a bit to friends and such, as none of them had ever been farther than Mexico or Hawaii, and I’d toured Europe twice before I was 10. And that traveling inspired me to do more traveling, and eventually become a travel writer for a living. So for me, those early trips were invaluable.

    I guess every child is different, but my best guess is that the younger ones would get a LOT out of such a cultural experience, even if it didn’t seem exciting at the time. I can understand why staying at home with friends would sound more appealing than spending weeks in a foreign country at those ages, but years from now I’d also guess that the young ones would be proud of having toured Europe and would thank you for it. Let’s hope so anyway. Let me know if there is anything else I can do to help. -Roger

Kathy says:

Hi Roger,
Sorry for the late response. Thank you so much for your useful information, Still working on our itinerary ideas. Thanks again

Chett says:


First, I want to sincerely thank you for the time you have taken to answer each question that has been asked of you. My high school sweetheart wife and I have been planning our first trip to Europe for over a year now and this website, with the various questions and responses you have provided has been more than any other resource I’ve found (yes, even more than Rick Steves). I’ve pretty much laid out our rough itinerary and wanted to get your feedback to see if it seems reasonable . The outline is pretty much a hybrid of the advice I’ve seen here as well as some sights that Steves provides as well. As you’ll notice, our objective is to see some of the big sites and cities, but spend the bulk of our time out of the busy cities, enjoying the Tuscan countryside, but close enough we can use them as a “hub” as we would if we were staying in Florence.

Tuesday 6-Jun Arrive Paris & overnight stay in Paris. Sightseeing possible (stay in Montmartre neighborhood or Le Marais)

Wednesday 7-Jun Paris Sightseeing & overnight

Thursday 8-Jun Paris Sightseeing with overnight train to Rome

Friday 9-Jun Arrive Rome in morning, sightseeing with overnight

Saturday 10-Jun Rome sightseeing & overnight

Sunday 11-Jun Rome sightseeing & overnight (Depart Rome morning of 12th and ride the train to Siena to rent a car to drive as we visit Tuscany region).

Monday 12-Jun Montepulcino overnight (use as a hub for southern Tuscany)

Tuesday 13-Jun Montepulcino overnight

Wednesday 14-Jun Montecatini Terme overnight (use as a hub for northern Tuscany. Include day trips to Cinque Terre, Pisa, and trip(s) to Florence)

Thursday 15-Jun Montecatini Terme overnight

Friday 16-Jun Montecatini Terme overnight

Saturday 17-Jun Montecatini Terme overnight (or drive to Florence to turn in car and take train to Venice late afternoon for overnight in Venice (3.5 hour train ride from Florence to Venice)

Sunday 18-Jun Train to Venice & Sightseeing- Overnight in Venice

Monday 19-Jun Venice & flight to Paris/overnight (flight is at 9:00 so most of the day can be spent sight seeing Venice)
Tuesday 20-Jun Fly home



    Thank you for the kind words. I’m a huge fan of Rick Steves and I have used his guidebooks and advice to plan many of my own Europe trips. As a result, much of the advice that I give ends up being similar to his advice.

    I think your plan looks fantastic. Speaking of Paris, I love the Montmartre neighborhood, but I also agree with Rick Steves that the Rue Cler neighborhood (near the Eiffel Tower) can be even better for a short visit because it’s so central AND it’s so charming and French.

    And personally, I’m not a big fan of overnight trains. They are rarely cheap, you miss all the scenery, and I never sleep well on them. But they can be an unforgettable experience so it may be worth a try.

    I’m also not familiar with some of your Tuscan stops, but it’s clear that you’ve researched this well. And if you are following Rick Steves advice on where to go, I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time. I’m happy to have helped, and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Thuy says:

Dear Roger,

We are planning a 2 week trip to France – Italy this July for a family of 4 (my kids are 14 and 12). We found your valuable blog while searching for itinerary 😉 This is our first trip in these 2 countries so we would like to do Paris (4 nights), Nice (2 nights), Venice (2 nights, Florence (3 nights), Rome (3 nights) and maybe Milan 1 nights.

The problem is we already have a return ticket to/from Paris CDG Airport so we have to go back to Paris for flying home.

We are thinking of flying to Paris, then do a connecting flight or take train to Rome, then Florence, Venice (Milan), Nice and Paris by trains. From Paris to Rome, is there a direct overnight train or we must change in Nice and Venice/Milan? what do you think is the better option (cost/time)?

Thank you very much.



    There is an overnight train from Rome to Paris, which takes a bit over 14 hours and changes in Milano and Dijon. However, I’m sure it’s very expensive. I’m not a big fan of night trains, especially in the age of cheap flights like this. If I were you I’d book a flight from Paris to Rome or the other way around if you prefer.

    The only tricky thing is that Paris and Rome each have two major airports, and the cheaper flights often use the smaller ones. So the cheaper flight from Rome to Paris might be into Orly Airport. If that’s the case you’ll either have to allow a few hours to get from there to CDG for your flight home, or pay a bit more for a flight into CDG. Both airports are on the commuter train lines, so getting between them isn’t difficult, but it may not be worth the hassle. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Camille says:

Hi Roger, I’ve been readind your blog for the past hour, thank you so much for all the tips and personal advices.
My boyfriend (from israel) is doing a last minute two months trip in europe because he got his visa refused for his original trip in the US. I’m trying to help him to plan 🙂
His trip :
– from mid october to the end of december
– very flexible with timing
– no car
– very interested in nature, hike, views and big cities, not very in historical sites or museums
– least rain possible and not very cold weather (not a lot warm clothes after his two months in california)

The plan so far is : fly from the US to Paris to visit me for a few days, then spending two weeks in France. I’m french and i’m having a hard time planning him a nice itinary in France, with no car and no rain/very cold weather. Any tips would be valuable (Lyon? then head south? But I read provence is not worth it without a car… then nice?)

Then he is heading to Italy for 3 weeks (or a bit more), the plan is :
2 days in Milan (or 1)
2 days in cinque terra
2 days in Florence
1 day in Pisa (or less, just a day trip from florence)
3 days in the nature in the area of Florence called Toscana
4 days in Rome
1 day in Vatican
4 days in Naples and its surroundings : sorrento, almafi coast
4 days in Puglia and its surroundings
2 days in Bologne
2 days in Venice
+ maybe a few days in sicilia

And then he is heading for Spain for 3 weeks, we still need to plan this, then joining me in my city in Bordeaux for Christmas.

However, I think three countries in 2 months might not be enough. Do you have any advice on a country not too far from these (I mean accessible with train or cheap flights), for 1 or 2 weeks, without a car, and expecting almost no rain or very cold weather? It would be before Italy so the beginning of November or after Italy so at the end of November…

I hope this was not too confusing, I really want to help him build a great trip after his big disappointment from the US visa.
Thank you a lot,



    I’ll try to answer the questions in order…

    Since you are French I’d assume you’d have a much better idea of where to take him than I would. Nice and that area should definitely be on your list, as it’s still reasonably pleasant there in late October. Lyon and Marseille are not really tourist cities for most visitors, but with a French person there I’d imagine you could unlock a lot of the local culture for the both of you. You might also consider Avignon as an interesting stop.

    Cinque Terre will be quite dead in early November, but at least you’ll mostly have it to yourself. I’m not sure I’d go there that time of year. And I’d do Pisa as a day trip from Florence, as it takes only about an hour each way.

    As for where else you might go, Spain is obviously huge and the weather in the south will still be pretty good that time of year. Portugal actually has slightly warmer weather on average, and there is a lot to see there as well. Those two countries are quite different from one another, mostly because Spain was shut off from most of the world for those decades.

    Croatia is another one to consider, although November is the start of the rainy season there, so maybe not. You could go to Athens or other places on the Greek mainland, which are still fairly warm and dry in November. You could get a cheap flight out of one of the larger cities you are already visiting. The Greek Islands are mostly shut down by November, so I wouldn’t recommend going to one of them.

    Of course if you want warm and pleasant weather in the autumn or winter you could always fly to the Canary Islands. Tenerife is the largest and the easiest for English speakers, and it’s got some good nature and hiking and even a volcano. You can get very cheap flights around Europe, especially that time of year. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

lean sing says:

Dear Roger,

I must say not only is your website a great treasure trove of information but i am mighty impress with you answering every single question posted! The suggestions you have made are tailored to every request and i am not sure how you do it but you are amazing! I know you have received many thanks for the website and for your feedback but let me thank you once again for this amazing website and for you too. I actually feel bad that i am going to ask you questions which you must have answered a gazillion times throughout the various questions and answers found on this thread – but i hope i do not come across shameless by asking questions too!

I am planning to my first ever trip to europe..and i have 2-2.5 weeks for it. Initially i was contemplating doing london/France/Italy…then i narrowed it down to France/Italy…then i think i am settled on Italy itself.

There are four main things i am keen to explore/try in italy:
1.) Historical Sites
2.) Amazing Culture
3.) The amazing food
4.) Hopefully Juventus or AC Milan Football Stadium

I would love to do the Big 3 (Rome/Florence/Venice) and do Naples/Amalfi coast/Pompeii/Sorrento and Siciliy

Based on what i am keen to explore…
1.) My first question is how many days would u recommend in each place for a 2-2.5 Week tour.

2.)And if there is one place you would choose for the most amazing food…which place would it be?

3.)Oh…we (my parents and i) are thinking of going in late august and Early September. Would that be a good time to go? Or should i wait till mid september?

4.) What would be the order of places i should visit? Aka..what should i visit first and what i should i visit last? I am flying from Singapore so that would help me plan my arrival and departure.

Once again thank you for your enthusiastic and helpful comments.

Lean Sing


    Lean Sing,

    Thank you for the kind words. I have been to nearly every major place in Europe and I enjoy helping people plan trips. Also, this is my full-time job and these questions help me figure out what people want to know, so I write content to reach even more people. In other words, it’s sort of like market research.

    If you are going to Italy for 14 to 18 days, I’d do 3 days in Rome (it’s a big city but it’s also a bit crazy and gets old pretty quickly), 3 days in Florence, and 1 or 2 days in Venice. I’ve yet to make it to Sicily and I’m not sure I’d recommend it for a first trip. If you did go I think you’d need at least 3 days. It takes quite a bit of time to get there, even from Naples, because the trains are slower the farther south you go.

    For the balance of the trip, which could be 3 to 6 days or so, I’d base myself in Sorrento to see all of the things around there. It’s kind of a low-key place, but it’s very nice and fairly easy to visit because so many people speak English there.

    The food in Italy tends to be different for each region. As you probably know, Naples claims to be the birthplace of pizza. There are two very old pizza places near each other there, and I was blown away by how good the pizza was at the less-busy place on the day I went. I expected it to be good, but not that good. Many people say that Tuscany, including Florence, has the most notable cuisine. There are better people to comment on this topic, I’m sure.

    It will be very hot in late August, and air-conditioning isn’t quite as common there as it is in some other places such as Singapore. Also, about half of Italian office workers take all of August off and head to the nearest beach. So beach areas are insanely crowded in August, while big cities feel strangely empty. I’d say the weather would be nicer in September, and crowds will be smaller as well. I’d go in September if it were me. But August in Rome is still probably cooler than August in Singapore.

    I’d start in Venice and then Florence, Rome, and down to Sorrento. If you want to do Sicily you can take a train from Naples or possibly even fly. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

lean sing says:

Thank you Roger for such a detailed reply!

My tentative plan is:
Day 1 – Arrive Venice
Day 2- Leave for Florence
Day 3,4,5 – Florence
Day 6 – Leave for Rome
Day 7,8,9 – Rome
Day 10 – Leave for Sorrento
Day 11,12,13 – Sorrento
Day 14 – Fly to Siciliy
Day 15,16,17 – Sicily
Day 18 – Fly back to Singapoer

My questions are:
1.) Would it be too rush in venice?
2.) Any places i should cut down?
3.) Any out of the beaten track i should visit? Perhaps Lake Como – i would really love to explore “quintessential” italy rather than just the typical touristy spots. 🙂

Thanks once again!



    You can see all of the main sights in Venice in 24 hours or even less. So it really depends on when your flight lands. I notice on your itinerary that you have a full day dedicated to leaving for each city. One nice thing about Italy is that these cities are all fairly close to each other and connected by high speed trains. In other words, you can leave Venice at noon and arrive in Florence at 2pm. With that in mind, I recommend 3 nights in each city, giving you two full sightseeing days in the middle. With that in mind you could actually move a bit faster, even if you stayed two nights in Venice.

    I don’t think you need to cut out any of this, and I do think you have time for Lake Como if you wanted. In my opinion, Lake Como may be a bit overrated. It’s a nice looking lake surrounded by mountains, and there are several traditional Italian towns near its center, but I don’t find it too special. It’s mostly a weekend getaway for wealthy people from the Milan area. I’m glad I visited it, but I find the places around Sorrento to be more interesting.

    Speaking of that, there is so much to do in the Sorrento area that you could stay there 5 days and still wish you had more. Naples is a great day trip, and Pompeii is a good half-day trip. There is also the Amalfi Coast and the island of Capri nearby. Sorrento itself is really nice, and it’s not overly touristy like Venice or parts of Florence or Rome. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

lean sing says:

Thanks once again Roger,

i have unfortunately overestimated the amount of annual leave i have. Turns out i can only be in italy for 15 days.

Venice 1 Night
Florence 3 Nights
Rome 4 Nights
Sorrento 3 Nights
Sicily 4 Nights

Would u recommend any tweaks? Perhaps less nights in Rome and more nights in either Sorrento or Florence?

Lean Sing



    That is a shame, but you will still have plenty of time in each place and your first visit to Italy will be far more thorough than most people.

    Rome for 4 nights and Sorrento for 3 nights looks good, but it might be more enjoyable to switch them, as you suggest. Again, the thing about Rome is that it’s large and filled with top sights, but it’s also kind of chaotic. For example, just crossing the street is stressful because there are no proper crosswalks in some of the busiest tourist areas. Also, the top sights will be packed, and that gets a bit old after a few days. You can see the top sights including the Coliseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Pantheon in one day, and the Vatican Museum in another day. In both cases you’ll still have late afternoon and evening to stroll through the public squares and have dinner and such.

    Then when you get to Sorrento it’s just much more pleasant and there are also top sights nearby including Pompeii, Naples, Amalfi Coast, and Capri. You could go either way, depending on which place sounds like it would suit you better. Have a wonderful trip. -Roger

lean sing says:

Thank you Roger!

lean sing says:


If i may add. I really appreciate your encouragement and your advice.

I have posted similar itinerary on other forums and have been constantly told that i am attempting too much or being unrealistic with my itinerary.

While i understand that there is much to see in each of these major Italian cities – one has only so much time and it is quite disheartening to hear remarks such as “time to get realistic.”

My question then…is my itinerary really that “unrealistic”?

Lean Sing



    I know exactly what you mean by so-called “experts” who spend their days in travel forums lecturing new travelers that “You can’t meaningfully visit ANY city in less than two weeks!” and that sort of thing. They are just being snobs and jerks. I’ve been all over the world and spent over 5 of the last 10 years on the road, including visiting just about every place in Europe. I can assure you that 3 nights is an ideal first visit to almost any city, and it’ll give you plenty of time to see the top 7 or 8 things on your list, without rushing around too much. And fortunately, Italy is easier than most places because the main train stations are centrally located and the big tourist cities are all about 90 to 120 minutes apart by train.

    Partly in response to people who lecture other people that we all have to travel as slowly as they do, I wrote an article a few years ago about the benefits of Fast Travel. You might find it interesting. Have a great trip and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

lean sing says:

Hi Roger,

Thank you thank you! If you happen to be in Italy when i am there – would love to toast you! Truly guide-extraordinaire! 🙂

I feel bad asking so many questions – so i am going to try to figure out on my own before asking u some “real” questions. 🙂 Thank you Roger!

Lean Sing

Lean sing says:

Hi Roger!
This is my final plan!
-1 night Venice
– 2 night Florence
– 3 or 4 nights total in Siena and perhaps Tuscan town (any suggestions)
– 3 nights in Rome
– 3 nights in Vietri Sul Mare
– 2-3 nights in salerno or sorrento or another amalfi coast town?
– 2 nights in Rome
– Flying home from Rome

My questions are:
1.) 4 nights in Tuscany and 5 nights in Amalfi Coast? Or 3 nights in Tuscany and 6 nights on the Amalfi Coast? What questions should I ask my family that will help us decide? We hope to see Chianti, San G, Pienza, Montalcino , Montelpuciao, Orvieto, Val D’Orchia, volterra and perhaps Lucca and Pisa?
1a) what kind of day tours should I be looking for that can cover the above places in relative ease.
2.) Is 5 nights in Rome too many days?
3.) is Vietri Sul Mare a good base to explore Amalfi Coast? Where else should I stay?
4.) does the flow of itinerary make sense?
5.) any other suggestions?

Thanks for the blog and suggestions!



    1.) I would vote for more time in Tuscany. The Amalfi Coast is really lovely, but it’s little more than a series of villages set in the hillside above little beaches. In other words, the Amalfi Coast is a place to relax, and actually getting between the villages is a bit of a hassle. You typically have to climb up a hill and catch a public bus to the next town, and then walk down the hill into the town from there. And the buses are usually crowded in summer. Tuscany is a large region in Italy that is one of the world’s most historic and famous art hot-spots and food destinations.

    In general I would recommend trying to sample fewer different places. For example, the villages along the Amalfi Coast are all fairly similar, and the towns in Tuscany are mostly quite similar. If you only spend a couple hours in each one and then hop on another train, you’ll be spending half your days in transit.

    2.) Rome is a huge city filled with sights, but it’s also very hectic and many first-time visitors get a bit frustrated at times. I would probably spend no more than 4 nights there, and 3 might even be enough. It’s very crowded as well.

    3.) Vietri Sul Mare is near the eastern edge of the Amalfi Coast. It would be a good base, but Positano and Amalfi are the more popular (and probably expensive) towns there.

    4.) Yes, I think the itinerary is logical. Again, I would probably shorten my stay in Rome, so you might even do those two days in Sorrento because it’s nice and the ideal base to visit Naples and Pompeii and the isle of Capri.

    5.) This looks very well researched and I haven’t been to every one of your planned stops, so I don’t have much else to stay. There are some very nice “hill towns” in Tuscany that are great for day trips or even an overnight stay.

    Have a great trip. -Roger

Ding Lean Sing says:

Thank You Roger once again for your patience and guidance!

Joanne says:

Hi Roger

so glad I discovered your site. So impressed that you reply to all these questions! Hopefully you have time to answer this one.
We are planning a month in Europe next summer with our 3 kids (boys between 10 and 14).
We don’t want to focus on the big cities and would prefer more local experiences rather than traditional tourist sight seeing. We are planning on travelling around by train and on our list is Italy – the types of locations appealing to us are Venice, Cinque Terre, Puglia, Sorrento, Capri. We would also like to visit Austria, Germany, and possibly Croatia. (I did have Switzerland in mind but read your article and think it might drop off the wish list). Does this sound like a feasible itinerary and any destinations in these countries you would recommend?
Many thanks



    I’m glad you found this site as well. I think it’s more helpful to start planning a trip like this in terms of the cities or places you want to visit rather than countries. If you have 30 days I highly recommend shooting for around 10 total stops, so 3 nights in most places. If you move around more quickly then you’ll be spending half your time on trains and in train stations, and if you move around more slowly you won’t see as much. Also, you can see the highlights of almost any city in Europe in 3 nights, which allows for 2 full sightseeing days.

    Venice is an exception because it’s small and so crowded that really 1 or 2 days is plenty. It’s also hard to recommend Cinque Terre these days because the towns are all so small and insanely packed that you just won’t enjoy it. Ironically, people only started going there as tourists in the 1990s or so, mostly because they were charming and unknown. Now everyone goes there and they are like a theme park without much to do.

    I’m a big fan of Sorrento as a base for 4 or 5 days to see all of the interesting things around there. You might plan on 15 days or so in Italy and the other 15 days in the other countries. You might be interested in my article about where to go in Germany. As for Austria, you’ll love Salzburg but I wouldn’t recommend Vienna if you aren’t fond of big cities. Salzburg is a short train ride from Munich, and you’ll also enjoy the small village of Hallstatt. That whole area is really lovely and it’s of course much cheaper than Switzerland.

    It might be best to save Croatia for a future trip. The coastal towns will be packed with northern Europeans in July and August. Split is easier to reach than Dubrovnik and much cheaper as well, even though it’s just as impressive. And then there is the excellent Plitvice Falls National Park, which is one of Europe’s most beautiful natural sights.

    Hopefully that gives you some ideas to narrow your plan down a bit more. I’m happy to help if you have other questions along the way. -Roger

Helen says:

Hi Roger

My husband & I are travelling to Europe next year in particular Amsterdam to visit relatives and Mainz in Germany to visit my God Child but mostly Crotia, Italy and France we are looking at mid April for 6-8 weeks. We live in Australia and it has been 20 odd years since we were in Europe last.

I am planning to spend about 4 nights in Holland, 3 nights in Mainz and the rest in Crotia, Italy & France (we would like to travel to Spain, Portugal & Scotland but am thinking of leaving these for another trip)

In Italy I am interested in Lake Como – staying in Varenna or Bellagio) for 3 nights, Cinque Terre for 3 nights, Florence (visiting Pisa & Siena) for 4 nights, Rome for 3 nights, Sorrento (Amalfi & Capri) for 3 nights, Venice for 2 nights and would also like to spend some time in Tuscany.

In Crotia, I would like to visit Dubronik and Split for 3/4 nights each.

In France I would like to visit Paris for 4 nights but am undecided after this. Although we love to see the BIG sights, I do love smaller villages to visit as well.

We both are very active people and do enjoy a more slower travel and the fast paced organised group tours but feel a bit overwhelmed with organising this myself.

I would really appreciate your thoughts on this.

With Warm Regards



    I think your plan looks fantastic, and it’s sort of rare that I say that the number of days you are planning for each stop looks just about perfect already. I try to discourage many people from going to Cinque Terre in summer because it’s just too crowded to enjoy, but in April it should be pretty nice (and fairly chilly, of course). I wouldn’t recommend Cinque Terre or Lake Como for a shorter trip, but since you are going to be there for as long as you are, I think those are both fine ideas. Varenna has a train station so it’s the easiest to reach, but it’s a short walk to the ferry stop and then a short ferry ride to Bellagio, which is larger and has more hotels, so either one will work well.

    If you haven’t been to Paris in a long time I do think it would be enjoyable this time. As cliche as it might seem, Paris really is a magical place and there is so much to enjoy there that it would be a shame to skip it. Mid April to the end of May is also pretty much the perfect time for a trip like this because it’ll be warm enough to enjoy, but obviously before the summer season and the big crowds. I don’t have much more to say, but I’m happy to answer questions if you have them. -Roger

Judith says:

Great site and such a wealth of information—-I have spent along evening reading and feel I have already travelled

My husband and I have 10 days travel We are from NZ and this is our first Italy trip so we want to balance getting a taster to return. We leave London on 29 Aug flying out of Barcelona on 9 September

I have been researching and have come up with this train trip into Florence 29 Aug (3 nights)
2.Cinque Terre (2 nights) We enjoy walking though I do read your comments about overcrowding SHOULD I LEAVE THIS OUT
3.Genoa (1 night)-this seemed to be a midpoint
4.Nice (2 nights)–side trips to Monaco
5.Carcasonne (1 night)the pictures looked spectacular
6.Barcelona (2 nights leave on 9 Sept)

Have I missed any places out?
I have read your many comments about Sorrento but I do not think I can add this into a 10 day itinerary??

I w0uld appreciate your comments



    I’m so glad to hear that you find this useful. I would say that 2 nights in Cinque Terre might be a bit much, even at the beginning of September. Those towns just seem to be so overcrowded in the summer months that many people no longer find them charming at all. On one hand you could just visit as a day trip from Florence, but so many other people are doing that that you’d only see them at their most crowded. If you stayed overnight you could at least enjoy the towns in the mornings and evenings when they are less crowded. It’s tough to say which is better.

    And I agree that you don’t really have time for Sorrento on this trip. I haven’t been to Carcassonne, but that could be a good side trip and a way to break up the journey from Nice to Barcelona. So I think your itinerary should work well, although I think it’s a shame that you don’t have 3 nights for Barcelona because it’s a large and amazing city. Also, I’m not terribly fond of one-night stops such as in Genoa, because you don’t get to see much in one evening and you maximize your time checking into and out of hotels. Still, Genoa is an interesting city so it’s not crazy to do that.

    I think this will work well or if you change a thing or two it could work even better. It looks like you have planned very well so far. -Roger

Judith says:

Thanks so much—We will overnight in Cinque Terre (Vernazza) and add a night onto the Barcelona stay
Thanks I will let you know how it goes

Helen says:

Hello Roger

Thank you for your comments on July 16 2017 they are very much appreciated.

I am wanting to ask you, whether you could recommend any places in the tuscany region to stay.

And also where else in France besides Paris would be great to stay and visit. I do love very friendly, cost effective and interesting places. Can you recommend any?

Once again, thank you for reading and replying to my questions.

Kind Regards



    In the Tuscany region you’ll obviously want to stay in Florence. Pisa is a popular day trip from Florence, as you can reach it in about an hour and see the Leaning Tower and the cathedral next door in a short time. The rest of Pisa isn’t very interesting. The next larger city to consider is Siena, but aside from having far fewer tourists than Florence, I don’t think it’s all that interesting. You might instead consider visiting one or two of the nearby hill towns for something very different. Volterra and San Gimignano are probably the best ones to consider for a first visit to Italy.

    France is huge and it’s hard to recommend just a few places. The Loire Valley near Paris is a wonderful area with great scenery and a variety of amazing palaces you can visit. Nice is probably the second best place in France to visit because it’s a very interesting city on the Mediterranean and it’s also a 20-minute train ride from Cannes in one direction and Monaco in the other. Those towns are all packed and very expensive in July and August, but the rest of the year they aren’t too bad. I mention a few other places on my article about best first-time Europe itinerary ideas. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

trina says:

I have 30 days in September next year. I’m already scheduled for a tour company in Italy so Florence can’t have added days but Venice and Rome can. I’m free for suggestions in France and Greece on what cities to stay. I’m very interested in historical places, including castles, churches, famous battle sites, etc. I could care less about beaches, seaside little towns like Cinque Terre, and I don’t party or drink so nightlife stuff doesn’t interest me. My tentative schedule is below, feedback is welcome.

Paris 1-7 (possible day trips or Nice, not sure yet)
Venice 7-9
Florence 9-12
Rome 12-15
Athens 15-20
20-25 (Not sure where to stay between these two, I’d like to see Delphi and Mycenae and maybe Epidaurus but I’m open to ideas)
Thessaloniki 25-29 (I’m going to do Pella and Vergina as day trips if possible)



    There are many great historic towns in France that you might choose, and I think Avignon might be a good one for you with its history and architecture. Two days in Venice is a good length because it’s so small that you can see the highlights in that amount of time, and it’s so crowded that you’ll be ready to leave after two days. Three days in Rome is also good, although if you like history you might add another day. Rome is packed with excellent sights, and you need almost a whole day in the Vatican alone. But Rome is also fairly chaotic so most people don’t like to linger after they’ve seen the main sights.

    Five days in Athens sounds like a lot to me. The main sights are amazing, but you can see them in 2 or 3 days. I don’t think I’d stay more than 4 days. My remaining experience in Greece is on a few islands so I can’t help much more than that. Some islands do have impressive ruins and such, but most people go to the islands just to sit on the beach in the day and drink at night, so it’s probably better that you stay on the mainland.

    I’ve watched several travel shows and read a lot about Peloponnese and it seems to be the best region for history and sights outside of Athens, but again, I can’t say I’m an expert on it. I’ve spent far more time in Turkey and you might also consider popping over there for at least part of your stay. Istanbul is obviously one of the world’s most historic cities, but there is much more to see, of course. Sorry I wasn’t of more help. Feel free to ask other questions if you have them. -Roger

trina says:

Thanks Roger for your advice. I was definitely considering Avignon before. Is 6 days in Paris too much? Should I do 4 Paris and 2 Avignon? I’m flying into Paris so 1 day for jet lag. Also maybe Crete or Rhodes in Greece would be a good idea or is there not enough historical stuff to see? I was thinking if I stayed in Larissa I could do easy day trips to Delphi and Mycenae. If I did Turkey could you recommend some places? I’d love to see Troy’s old site, but other than that I’m open. I thought traveling to Turkey too would be too much when I was looking at it, but maybe I’m wrong? Should I cut a day or two off Athens and Thessaloniki? I figured to do day trips from Thessaloniki I’d need to do about 4 days to not make it too rushed.

Paris 1-4
Avignon 4-7
Venice 7-9
Florence 9-12
Rome 12-16
Athens 16-20
Larissa 20-22
Thessaloniki 22-25
Turkey 25-30? and where would you recommend flying out of to the US? I was thinking of flying out of Thessaloniki before, but I found it’s not a good idea since they do more domestic flights.

Bill says:

Hi Roger. Just back from spending 2 weeks driving from Avignon, France to Genoa, Italy and based on your recommendations, has to be the best vacation every traveled. The people, food and Images/ scenery along the French Riviera is something that can’t be put in words other then fantastic. Even thought we had been in Nice before, that trip even though spectacular, your suggestion to visit the small fishing villages/towns was even more impressive. Now for next year. We plan to stay in Sicily for two weeks around Catania, Do you have any suggestion for day trips? Thanks again for your recommendations and I hope others follow what your suggestion are, tey can’t go wrong!



    Thank you so much for letting me know that things went so well. It really makes trying to help people worthwhile when I get feedback like that.

    I wish I could help with Sicily but I haven’t made it there myself yet. I spent a few weeks on Malta early last year and I was going to take a ferry to Sicily, but something came up and I ended up having to skip it and going to Barcelona by plane instead. I hear good things about Sicily, although two weeks sounds longer than most people stay. Sorry I can’t offer any good suggestions, and hopefully you can find answers on or Best of luck. -Roger

Leicha Keldie says:

Hi Roger,

Loving this site! Amazing wealth of info.

Hubby and I are planning a month trip in June/July 2018: London, France, Italy (first time) want to do as much as possible.

Sooo many places to see and so much to do, its all a bit overwhelming!

We are planning on flying into either London or Rome (depending on my mum/school holidays as she will be teaching English in Naples)

Itinerary WISH LIST includes:

London 4 nights
Paris 4 nights
Nice 2 nights (Monaco as a day trip)
Milan or Lake Como (possibly 1 night)
Verona passing through to Venice
Venice 2 nights
Florence 2 nights
Cinque Terre 2 nights
A 1/2 day trip to Pisa
Rome 4 nights
Train from Rome to Naples onto Sorrento for 3 nights as a base to do the Almafi Coast
Possible night in Capri
Almafi Coast back to Rome to fly out

This could be reversed depending on mums work/time off. I.E flying into Rome and out of London

I’m a bit lost/unsure about how to go about piecing together/aligning/configuring all our ‘must visit places” in a succinct travel route without doubling back on ourselves.

I’m not sure if it would be better to go from Nice -> Milan -> Como -> Verona -> Venice -> Cinque Terre -> Pisa -> Florence -> Rome -> Almafi Coast


Nice -> Cinque Terre -> Milan -> Como -> Verona -> Venice -> Florence -> Pisa -> Rome -> Amalfi Coast

Or should we skip Milan/Lake Como and go from Nice to Cinque Terra -> Pisa -> Florence up to Verona -> Venice -> then go down the East Coast to Rome or Almafi Coast ending in Rome?

Again if we fly into Rome this will be different and I am finding it hard to sort out a direct route without doubling back.

Can we do Rome -> Almafi Coast back up North without having to go back to Rome? Then would onto Venice -> Verona -> Milan -> Lake Como -> Florence -> Pisa -> Cinque Terra -> Nice -> Paris -> London work better?

Any suggestions/fine tuning would be much appreciated. Thanks

Leicha Keldie



    I’m very happy to hear that the site is helpful. I’ll try to answer your questions in order. Your itinerary looks very good as it is, but maybe there are minor changes.

    I think my first recommendation, which will make a lot of the rest of this easier, is to skip the Cinque Terre for this trip. There are a handful of very photogenic areas in the 5 Towns area, but at this point the crowds in peak months (such as June and July) are just so overwhelming that it’s become very hard to enjoy. Interestingly, those 5 villages were mostly forgotten by tourism until around 15 years ago when one or two major travel writers started recommending them as quiet and authentic fishing villages. Since then, they’ve become so popular that they have been “loved to death” as the expression goes, and they are even considering limiting tourist numbers per day. If you are really curious to see them you could do a day-visit while staying in Florence, but even that might be overwhelming.

    If you do skip Cinque Terre for this trip (maybe you’ll go back on an October visit in the future?), the routing is much easier and more obvious.

    Milan and Lake Como are also interesting. Milan isn’t a very touristy city, except the area around the cathedral is really lovely and worth a look, and of course the Last Supper if you reserve far enough ahead. Lake Como is really nice and very photogenic in good weather. You reach Lake Como on a suburban train from Milan that takes about an hour. Once off the train in Varenna, it’s a short walk through town to the ferry stop and from there you can take the frequent and cheap ferries to any of the other nearby towns. Varenna itself is nice and it’s convenient, although Bellagio is larger and has more hotels and shopping. It will also be fairly crowded, but I’d go to Lake Como rather than Cinque Terre.

    To reach Sorrento you take the high-speed train from Rome to Naples in a bit over an hour. Once in Naples you then go downstairs from the main train station into the suburban train station below where you will catch the Circumvesuviana train that ends in Sorrento about 70 minutes later, and runs every 30 minutes. You can also take a ferry from Naples to Sorrento, but from the train station it takes quite a bit longer. With this in mind, you could do Sorrento before or after Rome pretty easily, depending on your flight schedule and all of that.

    I’ve only ever changed trains in Verona, but it looks like the main town center is very nice and worth a stop. I hope this helps. If you are determined to do Cinque Terre I would do it from Florence or Pisa, rather than down from Genoa when you first get into Italy. As always, let me know if you have any other questions and I’ll be happy to try to help. -Roger

Michelle says:

Hi Roger,
What a great site you have and such a wealth of knowledge!
We are travelling to Europe from Australia at the end of August next year. First time to Europe so feeling very excited and daunted at the same time.
We have booked a 10 night cruise leaving from Rome Travelling to
and then returning to Rome.
We can only be away a little over 3 weeks so my plan is to arrive in Rome a couple of days before the cruise.
We arrive back in Rome on the 10th Sept and have about 7 days before we head home.
I would also like to see Venice, Florence Nice and Paris. Do you think this is doable ? If so how long would you stay in each city and what order would you recommend.



    Your cruise looks wonderful. You should be able to do most of your list before and after the cruise. My recommendation would be 3 nights in Rome, 3 nights in Florence (although 2 will do), 1 night in Venice, 2 or 3 nights in Nice, and at least 3 nights in Paris. So if you can do your Rome visit before the cruise, you could come back and then take a 90-minute train ride to Florence for the remaining part of the trip. The train to Venice is less than two hours.

    One tricky thing about including Nice in your plans is that the trains from Venice take a bit over 7.5 hours to reach Nice and then another 5 hours 40 minutes from Nice to Paris. Since you will be rushing a bit, that might be longer than you want to spend on trains. Neither one of those is exceptionally scenic, although they aren’t boring. If you decided to skip Nice on this trip you could fly directly from Venice (or nearby Treviso) to Paris and you’d have more time to spend there. That is probably your best bet, especially if you only have 7 days after the cruise. If this is your first visit to Europe I would make it a priority to spend at least 3 nights in Paris. You could rush a bit in some of the other cities, and hopefully you’d have 3 nights in Rome as well. As always, let me know if you have any questions. -Roger

Michelle says:

Thanks Roger,
That makes a lot of sense. So many places and so little time! Will put Nice on the list for next time. Thanks for your advice. Much appreciated.

Helen says:

Hi Roger
Thanks for your site-very helpful.
My partner and I want to go to Italy and include the French Riviera from this September for about 5 weeks.
We want to do a drive holiday- what do you think about that?
We thought about starting in Nice then to lake Como, over to Venice then down. I want to see cinque terra and the Amalfi coast etc
Could you advise your recommendations?
Or if you could suggest any other sites that may be helpful.
We did wonder if we could hire a car in Nice and leave it in Sicily or somewhere down south.




    That sounds very nice, but I’ve never driven myself in Italy and I’m not sure how much help I’ll be. Nice is a very compact city and you’d either have to pay a pretty high fee to park each day, or stay at a hotel well outside the center that might have free parking. And if you did that you’d have to pay to park when you drove into town or to Cannes or Antibes or Monaco. It would be better to go to Nice and travel around by train and bus and taxi, and then rent a car when you are ready to leave.

    Lake Como is also quite dense and the popular villages along its banks won’t have much free parking either. And of course Venice is a car-free island, so you’d have to park in a large lot on the mainland and then commute in on a train or ferry. Cinque Terra is similar to Lake Como in that it’s 5 small villages that were built long before autos, so parking will be difficult and/or expensive. The Amalfi Coast is also similar. The towns there are built into the side of the hills and there are only a few roads, and very little parking.

    The public transportation in Italy is so good and so inexpensive that I don’t see much of an advantage of driving. It will also be stressful to drive around Italy because the signs can be confusing and the drivers there are notoriously aggressive. I don’t want to seem so negative about renting a car, as in some parts of Europe it can be far better to public transport. But I’ve been to all of the places you mentioned and I would absolutely do public transportation for that kind of trip. I’m not sure how much this helps, but feel free to ask other questions if you have them. -Roger

Shelley says:

Great site, I’m so glad I found it! Could you please advise me on our itinerary for two weeks in May with our four boys ages 13-21? I do t feel like it’s very efficient and I have a couple kids that want to go to an island or beaches in Italy and I’m not sure how to add it in or what to eliminate.
Day 1 Arrive late in Rome with 10 hour layover in London
Day 2,3 Rome
Day 4 Pompeii (add beach time?)
Day 5 Vatican/Rome
Day 5 Train to Florence
Day 6 Florence
Day 7 Train to Venice
Day 8 Venice
Day 9 Train or fly to Paris
Days 10, 11 Paris
Day 12 Versailles
Day 13 Travel to London
Day 14 London
Day 15 Depart London

I’m also uncertain about buying a Paris pass. Maybe a 3 day? Thank you for any advice.



    I’ll try to help. Visiting Pompeii from Rome would take most of your day and I don’t know of any good way of adding beach time. There aren’t many sandy beaches in Italy anyway, as most of the coast is cliffs or mountains, although there are some sandy beaches for sure.

    From Venice it’s best to fly to Paris. The trains take a long time and are more expensive than flying anyway. You can fly from Venice Airport or nearby Treviso Airport pretty quickly.

    It would be better if you had 3 nights in London (unless you’ve been there already), as those it’s a huge city with so much to see, but all of your other stops are excellent destinations as well so there isn’t anything easy to cut. Unfortunately, there are no convenient beaches or islands that you could visit easily on this route. As I said, sandy beaches are rare in Italy. On the other hand, they are old enough that I’m sure they will enjoy and appreciate almost all of the main sights. Things like the hop-on, hop-off bus tours and river tours are fun for young people.

    As for the Paris Pass, I think it’s a great idea if you are planning on doing enough of the included sights. Have a look at my full Paris Pass review for my thorough advice. The short version is that I highly recommend the Paris hop-on, hop-off bus during the day, and the included Seine cruise a bit after dark, whether you get a Paris Pass or not. Both of those are really excellent and worthwhile tours on their own. If you also want to go to the Louvre and a couple other highlights, the Paris Pass pays for itself pretty quickly. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Soumen says:

Hi roger,

I am planning a two weeks Europe trip in the month of May- June. Wish to visit France, Italy and if possible Spain. I am based in Bournemouth and will be travelling with my wife and an 18 month old baby. Could you please help me plan the trip specially the interconnect trips and hotel stay.? Should I follow the trip plan mentioned in the blog as is or anything else needs to be considered given that I have a kid travelling with me. So that you know I will be needing a schengen visa, so should I apply for the visa after making all the bookings or vice versa.



    In France you obviously want to visit Paris for at least 3 nights and perhaps even 4 nights. The shortest visit to Italy that I recommend is one night in Venice, three nights in Florence, and three nights in Rome. If you did the shortest version it would leave you 3 to 4 nights left in your two weeks. Personally, I would save Spain for another trip because including it on this trip would mean flying in and out anyway, which you can do easily from the UK. I’m not sure how much more trouble it is to get a Schengen visa for a second trip, but hopefully it’s not too bad. Also, the shortest visit I recommend to Spain is 3 nights in Barcelona and 3 nights in Madrid, so two weeks wouldn’t be enough to even do the shortest visit, and Spain has so much more to see when you have the time.

    So I think it’s best to get to London and then take the Eurostar train from St. Pancras to Gare du Nord in Paris. After 3 or 4 nights in Paris you could take a train down to Nice for 2 or 3 nights, as it’s a great place to enjoy the French Riviera including Monaco and Cannes on a modest budget. From Nice you can take a train to Venice in a bit over 7 hours, but flying might be better with the young one. If you skip Nice you can fly directly from Paris into Venice (or nearby Treviso). You can enjoy Venice in about 24 hours, but if you have two days it could be nicer.

    Then take the 2-hour train ride from Venice to Florence, and stay there at least 3 nights. Not only is Florence a wonderful tourist city itself, but it’s also a good place for a day trip to Pisa or Siena or the Cinque Terre or to some of the nearby hill towns. After Florence you can take the 90-minute train to Rome for 3 or 4 nights. Then you’d want to fly from Rome back to the UK because the train would take forever and cost a fortune.

    I don’t think you need to alter your plans much for the baby. All of the trains you’ll be taking are the comfortable Intercity trains that have adequate space even for a stroller, and should also have baby changing stations on at least every other carriage. Those trains are very different from the typical UK trains and especially the local trains along the south coast. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Roni says:

We are a group of 8 traveling to Paris & Rome for the first time in July 2018. There are 2 seniors, 4 adult females and 2 kids (ages 10 & 15). We have 6 full days & nights available for touring excluding our arrival and departure days. We are flying in and out of Paris (CDG). Can you please recommend a 6-day itinerary for both cities, including how best to get to and from Rome?



    I can help with the basics, but I prefer not to make suggestions for how to spend each day since tastes and budgets are all different. Really it’s easy in that you should spend 3 nights in Paris and then fly to Rome for the remaining 3 nights. The trains between those cities take over 10 hours so they are much slower than flying and the trains generally cost more as well. It’s worth noting that Paris and Rome each have two major airports. In Paris it’s Charles de Gaulle that has most of the international flights and the major airlines, but Orly Airport (which is a bit closer to central Paris) has more of the low cost flights within Europe. In Rome it’s the same in that Fiumicino is the main airport and Ciampino has most of the cheap flights. Let me know if you have any other questions. I’m sure it will be easy to find plenty of great things to do in each city. -Roger

Roni says:

Thank you very much Roger. You provided very important details. The information about the alternative airports is greatly appreciated.

Steven says:

Hello there!

I’m more interested in which things we should we our do in the intinery below since we have limited time in each place. We’ll be traveling very light, carrying just one small backpack.

We ‘ll be flying into Marseille around noon and out of Pisa in the morning. Two short flights from Brussels 🙂

Marseille 1 night (2 days)
Nice 2 nights
Genoa 1 night
Florence 2 nights
Pisa 1 night

Any suggestions for a couple. Should we include Monte Carlo and Cinque Terre on the ways to Genoa and Florence respectively. The pls is to just see te field of miracles in Pisa late in the evening and go to bed for our early flight.

We ‘ll use rail all the way lightly packed. We ‘ll limit rail travel under 10 hours. Any gems a should consider? Thanks in advance



    I’m happy to help make itinerary suggestions for where to go and how long to stay, but I don’t like to make sightseeing suggestions because tastes and budgets are so different. Marseille isn’t really a tourist city, although I’m sure it’s interesting if you want to see a large French city known for its immigrant neighborhoods. Nice is really lovely and while you are there you should definitely consider visiting Monaco, as it’s only about 20 minutes away by train. Monte Carlo is a small neighborhood within Monaco, which is tiny itself.

    Genoa isn’t one of Italy’s top tourist cities either, so you might consider staying longer in Nice or Florence, since a 2-night stay in either is very short. I would skip Cinque Terre because you are already rushing around more quickly than most people prefer. You could potentially take the coastal train from Genoa through Cinque Terre on your way to Florence. You could get off the train in Vernazza, which is the most photogenic of the five towns, and walk around for an hour or two before hopping on another train. It’s small enough that in two hours you’ve seen the whole town and will be ready to go.

    For your longer train rides it’s cheapest to buy your train tickets online as far in advance as possible. But for your local trains like in Cinque Terre they are the same price no matter when you buy, so you can just get them when you get there. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Zein says:

Do you have any suggestions on which site to use to book for train for France and Italy? What clothes to bring?

Marianne says:

Hi Roger,

I’m making my way through your very helpful replies! We are a family of 3 and will be travelling for 3 weeks in July–that’s when we’re able to travel due to work & school –flying into Paris, and flying out of Rome 3 weeks later. We’re really want to explore the south of France before heading to Italy. Train from Paris to ??, not sure where yet but would love to see Arles-Avignon–someplace on the water/optional–someplace further west, heading to the Pyrenees? So we’re wondering if a good home base could be decided upon and we can drive and take day trips from there. Then we’ll have to decide where to go in Italy; considering the Riviera in the north, Venice, and not sure where else, but we don’t want to be too rushed. When my husband and I did a similar trip for our honeymoon, which was also for 3 weeks, we only did Paris-Aix-Santa Margherita-Venice-Florence(day trips)-Positano. Getting to Positano was a hassle but I don’t recall exactly why. Can you help us with our itinerary a bit? Thank you! Marianne



    This sounds like a wonderful trip. France is a tricky place to visit in July and August, as you probably know. Most of the office workers leave the cities for a full month in that period and if they can afford it they head to a beach. Nice is the best base in the south of France any other month of the year because it has good connections and plenty of reasonably priced hotels, but in those months it will be crowded and hotel rates will be at their peak. Some of those office workers and store clerks head to country cottages instead of beaches, so many of those areas will be crowded as well. The cities are just about the only places where crowds are smaller than normal in those months.

    And then there is the issue of driving and parking. I normally recommend people take trains to get around in France, but if you want to visit wine regions or national parks then driving can be best. I’d think that a town like Avignon won’t be too crowded during that period, but I’m unsure about many other places you might use as a base. I think if I were you I’d check hotel rates in Nice and some other larger places and see if you find deals that look appealing. You might have to check a few different cities and hopefully you can find something that looks good. Mostly people book near the beach because they want to be near the beach, so finding a home base for day trips is a little tricky. Sorry I’m not more helpful on this.

    All of the beach areas in Italy will also be jammed in July, and Italy doesn’t have many long, sandy beaches in general. The beach season in Europe is literally July and August, so it’s usually best to go elsewhere if you are visiting in those months. But again, the cities tend to be less crowded than normal, so you do have options. Positano is lovely, but you have to take a suburban train from Naples to Sorrento and then a bus or taxi from there, so it is a bit of a hassle. I don’t really have any good advice for Italy either, pretty much for the exact same reasons as France. Again, it’s probably best to just check rates and see if the places you want to visit have reasonably priced rooms or rentals. I wish I could help more. Best of luck with this. -Roger

Marianne says:

I hear you. What about Avignon as a base and we could rent a car and take day trips? When you mentioned a wine region, do you mean Bordeaux or others? Would further west in France also be super crowded? In Italy, I’m looking at Sorrento–looks lovely and seems to be swimming there or near enough. And maybe that will be less crowded and less of a hassle than Positano (wold waste a large part of a day to get there, no?) or cove beaches on the Amalfi coast–pricey, I would think. Another thought is an Agriturismo in Tuscany with a pool! So, Paris-Avignon (with car)- train to Italy, somewhere in north if we have time, Venice, (Florence I’m not sure, maybe the Agriturismo instead)-Sorrento-Rome? That’s 6 places in 3 weeks.



    Avignon could be a good base as long as you can find a hotel or rental with available parking, which I think could be a challenge in the historic center. I think there might be other good options in that area as well, but I haven’t spent much time there in quite a while so it’s hard for me to confidently recommend something. Bordeaux is the largest of the wine regions, but there are many others all over France. They mostly consist of small towns and villages so they don’t get too crowded because there isn’t much accommodation in the centers of them. You can get better information for those places if you Google the one that interests you.

    As for Sorrento, the main part of the town is on top of sort of a tall cliff, although I do remember seeing a few small beaches in that area as well. I don’t think they have any wide, sandy beaches there though, so most people use it as a base to stay and then head to the Amalfi towns for some beach time during the days. The problem is that large and sandy beaches are rare in Italy so the few that are there are packed or hard to reach for the public. The agriturismo in Tuscany idea sounds fantastic and I’d think you could find something really nice and with a pool. Six places in three weeks sounds ideal. Again, it’s hard to know exactly where you can find reasonable hotel deals that time of year without going through the listings for specific dates, but I do think you are on the right track and should be able to find a very nice combination of things. -Roger

Rekha says:

Hi Roger,
I am planning a trip to Paris and Italy and I have query with regards to the visa requirements.
I am planning 3days in paris and 8 days in Italy or a 10day trip to Italy, the issue is there are no visa appointments available for Italy from Mumbai at VFS.
I wanted to know, in that case, if i take paris schengen visa and my entry to Europe through Paris, will that work? considering the largest stay will be Italy. (Meanwhile, I am tracking Italy visa appointment schedule).

Thank you for your inputs. Sorry if this is not the right forum to discuss this.

Best regards



    Once you are in a Schengen country there are no borders or checkpoints so I assume you could get a visa for either country. But I’m not sure if there is some technical reason why you can’t and maybe they will ask you for your itinerary upon entry. So I can’t really help. I think you’ll find this answer elsewhere though. -Roger

AK says:

Hi Roger

Thanks for putting up such a nice page on France and Italy tour. Me and my friends are planning to Travel France and Italy for 7 days .We are 4 people, and would like to cover Paris, Venice and Amalfi as main destinations . Could you help us to put up a rough itinerary to cover these destinations ?It would be helpful as we are first time travellers to Europe.
Thanks in advance



    That sounds very nice. Your challenge will be that 7 days is quite a short time for those three places, and they are all spread out a bit. You’ll want to fly into Paris for 3 nights and then fly to Venice for 1 night. The Amalfi Coast is south of Naples and from Venice it would take you at least 6 or 7 hours by train and bus or taxi to get there, by taking trains from Venice to Naples and then the local train from Naples to Sorrento and then a bus or taxi to Amalfi. Honestly, that is a long way to go for a place like that and I’d recommend considering a different second stop in Italy. Florence and Rome are the other major tourist cities are both are amazing. The Cinque Terre are overcrowded and a bit overrated, but at least they are much closer and easier to reach compared to Amalfi.

    So my best advice is to do Paris and then choose one or two other places to spend your other four days that are hopefully easy to reach from each other. If you are only there for 7 total days it’s a shame to spend a whole day in transit from one place to another. I’m happy to help with more advice if you need it. -Roger

Michal says:

Hi Roger,

Two couples traveling from Atlanta to Paris for 10 days. We wanted to do a few days in Paris, then fly to Nice and charter a yacht for a day. We also have the desire to hit Cinque Terre. What would you suggest in terms of time to spend in each city?

Thinking Paris: Sept 3-6
Flight to Nice Sept 7 for 1 night
Italy 8-10th
Back to Paris the evening of Sept 10th
Champagne for day trip-11th
We depart for US on a 4a departure Sept 13th.

Any help greatly appreciated.



    Three or four days in Paris is perfect for a first visit. A train from Paris to Nice takes about 5.5 hours, which is about the same amount of time it would take to fly when you factor in the airport transportation and waiting and such, and the train is FAR more pleasant and obviously scenic. Either way, one night seems kind of rushed even if you are just going to rent a boat for the day. I suppose if you got a very early flight that got in before 11am you could get a half-day rental in starting close to 1pm. It would be much better if you could stay two nights and spend the first partial day looking around because Nice is a really lovely city and area, and you could even pop over to Monaco for a few hours since it’s only about 20 minutes away by train. Then you could do the boat thing the whole next day and leave for Italy the following morning.

    The Cinque Terre have become insanely crowded in the last few years, but in September the crowds shouldn’t be too bad so it could work. Still, they are five small villages and there isn’t much to do there aside from do the cliff-side hike between them and check out the views. One of the towns has a beach, and it would probably be pretty nice in September. I think two nights should be enough, but three would be enjoyable as long as you know what you are there to see and do.

    Paris to Champagne takes about two hours each way whether by car or train, so it is a pretty good day trip if you have the whole day. So I think your plan looks pretty good although you might consider slight changes. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Sherene Newby says:

Hi there, not sure if this thread is still active? I’m visiting Europe for the first time! I am lucky that it is with work so I’ve got the option of arriving 2 days early and doing Florence on my own then heading to Reggio Emilia for a 7 night conference. Hubby will join me and we’ve got 15 nights. I’m thinking 2 nights Venice, one night in florence together then Rome for 3 nights. That leaves 9 nights. I’d love to do Paris for 4 nights and London for 4? Can I squeeze in Barcelona for the architecture or should we try Monaco/Cannes instead then head to Paris? or is it best to fly from Rome to Paris and just enjoy the city of love? Is 4 nights in London a good amount of time? Thanks so much.



    Every comment section on this website is still active and I’ll be happy to try to help. Being able to add time to a conference like that sounds fantastic.

    Venice is really amazing and two nights there will be great, but you could see enough in 24 hours if you were in a hurry because it’s pretty small and also so crowded that it’s easy to get your fill. One night in Florence for your husband won’t be enough time to see much of anything, but since it’s a short train ride between Venice and Rome it could still be worthwhile. You can find a hotel fairly close to the train station and you’ll at least be able to see the cathedral and have a couple nice meals. Rome in 3 nights is ideal, in my opinion.

    From Rome it would take most of a day on the train to reach Nice/Monaco/Cannes because the trains that run along the southern coast and into Italy are pretty slow. Starting from Milan it’s not too bad, but starting in Rome would take about 9.5 hours. You could fly nonstop on Alitalia and then take a train to Paris, but you could do the same thing to Barcelona and I think I’d vote for Barcelona of the two choices. However, my standard recommendation is to spend 3 nights in any (larger) city that you visit, so you could fly from Rome to Barcelona for three nights and then a train to Paris for 3 nights and then the Eurostar train to London for 3 nights. On the other hand, London and Paris are among the largest and most interesting and four nights in each is better than three nights in each. So it all comes down to priorities and how you want to divide your trip. Two nights in Barcelona would at least give you time for the biggest highlights, and you could still do 4 nights in London or Paris. I’m happy to try to help more so let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Chris P says:

Hi there Roger. You’ve given me some good assistance previously over on your ‘Where to go in Switzerland’ page, and I’m wondering if I could now ask your opinion on the Italian leg of our journey.
As a reminder: We’re a family of 4 (kids aged 7 and 10). We’ll be travelling in June/July 2019 (arriving in Suisse on the 14th). We expect to have a hire car for the entire trip. We are *definitely* budget travellers. The first part of our itinerary is 8 nights in Switzerland (Lucerne, Interlaken area, Gruyeres area). From there we head to Annecy in France for 3 nights, spend a couple more nights on the way as we make our way toward Nice and stay there 3 nights also (with a day-trip to Monaco). That stuff is all pretty well sorted. Then comes the Italian bit. The intention was as follows:
Day 1: Travel to Cinque Terre arriving in the afternoon. Spend the night (Night 1)
Day 2: Spend half the day @ Cinque Terre, then quick stop to look at the Leaning Tower and on to the Florence/Siena region that night (Night 2) maybe staying somewhere half-way between the 2.
Days 3 & 4: This gives us 2 full days here – 1 day in Siena and 1 day in Florence and means we’re staying in the same accommodation for 3 nights which keeps it easy.
Day 5: Travel to Venice (or somewhere nearby on the mainland), arriving in the evening and stay the night (Night 5).
Day 6: Venice. Stay the night (Night 6).
Day 7: Depart early to travel to Lugano, Switzerland (hopefully via Monza circuit since I’m a Formula 1 fan – though time may not permit), arriving in the evening (Night 7).
Days 8 & 9: Lugano and surrounds.
Day 10: Depart AM for Malpensa airport just back over the border in Italy.
This gives us 1 night in Cinque Terre, 3 nights Florence/Siena, 2 nights Venice, 3 nights Lugano. By having multiple nights in most places it generally makes accommodation easier to book as not all hosts allow single-night stays (we usually use Airbnb) and also means less changing accommodation (changes tend to waste time since you’re looking for a new address, meeting a new host, settling in/packing up, etc).
So, this brings me to my questions (or more correctly my concerns):
– This itinerary makes for a fair bit of driving. It is manageable (we have done similar on an overseas trip last year) but driving obviously burns a fair bit of time and is reasonably tiring. Do you think this is a good route (it seems fairly good based on your article up above), or would there be a different route you’d recommend through northern Italy to minimise drive time (though this would likely mean we’d miss Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence, Siena.
– I have seen pictures of Cinque Terre and always thought it would be great to go to.
– I realise there’s nothing phenomenal about the Leaning Tower, but it would be easy to get to on the way to Florence and seems like the ‘done thing’!
– Florence seems to be basically about art museums and the like. We really have no interest in this sort of stuff, though I’ve heard a lot of people say Florence is wonderful. I enjoy architecture, but have no particular inclination to go in to see any artworks. Do you think Florence is worthwhile for us? We’ll likely never be back in that part of the world, so I’m happy to go there if it’s worth seeing, but we’re not likely to enjoy going into museums, galleries, etc.
– I’ve read that Siena is quite nice and my daughter’s name is Sienna, so there’s some appeal there.
– We don’t love huge crowds so Venice isn’t a burning desire either, but from all reports it’s a must-see, and we’ll likely never be back.
– I have scheduled 2 full days (3 nights) in Lugano for a bit of down-time before we fly home and of course we can take a drive into the mountains from there and it sounds like there’s a fair bit of stuff to see in the area if we wish to.
So, the big question (as mentioned earlier) is what do you think of this itinerary? Do you see a better way to do things, or a different route that might be preferable? Or to get a taste of northern Italy is this a pretty good way to go about it?
Specifically (if we stick with this route) I was wondering about staying 1 night on one of the Italian lakes (maybe Garda or Iseo) on the way from Venice to Lugano? This means a one-night stay, which isn’t ideal, but it breaks up the lengthy drive to Lugano. However would also mean 1 day less in Lugano (if that’s where we steal the time from). Do you think that would be preferable (when considering what we might see/do on one of those lakes), or would there be not much difference to Lugano?
As mentioned I like to see the architecture of a region – the more magnificent, the better! Aside from that we are happy seeing the sights, particularly whatever nature has to offer (though of course we’re seeing plenty of that is France and Switzerland. Driving is a great way to see what different areas are like, though we’d mostly be on motorways in Italy.
I know my post has been rather wordy, but hopefully it gives adequate background so that you can share your thoughts. Thanks so much for your time.

Further to my earlier message – another thought I had was to skip the day in Florence (if it’s not a must-see), and use that for a day and night at one of the northern Italian lakes instead. Just a thought…


    Chris P,

    I’ll be happy to try to help, although this is a tough one to answer. The main challenge is the driving part through areas that are designed to be poorly suited to independent car travel. In Switzerland it’s different because most of the best places to visit are smaller towns and villages with farms and such in them so they are spread out and parking can be simple. Italy is VERY different from that and they literally try to make car travel difficult and expensive in order to nudge people onto public transportation.

    I just looked up parking in the Cinque Terre, and it’s just as I expected in that there are small parking areas that are well inland from the actual villages. Vernazza is the most charming and photogenic village and there evidently is a 50-spot lot about 1 kilometer inland from the village. The train station, on the other hand, is in the middle of the village. Again, I think driving around Switzerland can be a good idea and possibly even cheaper than trains for a family of four, but trains in Italy are surprisingly cheap so the car is almost certain to cost quite a bit more.

    Even if the cost were the same, the experience of driving compared to taking the trains will be much worse. Honestly, it’s incredibly fun to hop off a train in Italy and be surrounded by affordable hotels and restaurants and be walking distance from nearly every major sight. For Florence or Siena you’d have to pay a fortune to park near the center so you’d probably end up staying at the edge of town, meaning that you’d have to spend 30 to 60 minutes on a bus to get into the tourist zone in each direction, or drive and pay €20 per hour to park near the attractions. The trains literally go everywhere that you want to go. So at the risk of being annoying, I urge you to consider dropping the car when you get into Italy and changing to trains.

    As for the places you mentioned, Florence really is a great place with gorgeous architecture, but most of the attractions are museums and palaces and churches and such. The food there is also excellent since it’s the capital of Tuscany. The Leaning Tower is pretty amazing to see in person so I think that’s a worthwhile stop (by car or train), but the rest of Pisa is kind of a dud. Siena is kind of a smaller Florence, and the most famous thing is the stone town square where they have horse races twice a year. The food there is similar and it’s less crowded and touristy than Florence.

    In general I think it’s best to ask yourself why you want to visit a destination and what you hope to see there. If you don’t have good answers for those questions it might be better to go elsewhere. I’m not a big museum fan myself and I’ve been inside literally about 100 famous cathedrals all over Europe, so I’m not rushing to see other ones that aren’t very notable. The lakes and beach areas and other small random towns might be more interesting, especially if you are driving.

    Speaking of that, the Cinque Terre villages are really lovely, but in summer they are also so crowded these days that the local officials are talking about limiting the number of guests each day. The same is true of Venice. If you go by train it’s still enjoyable, but if you are driving I’d probably look for nearby places that aren’t so crowded and car-unfriendly. Venice, however, is amazing and there is nothing else like it so I’d go for at least a day even if you drive.

    I don’t think I got to all of your questions, but hopefully this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Chris P says:

Hi Roger,
Thanks for your comments – much appreciated. Hmm, it sounds like we may need to revisit our plans.

The main town I wanted to see at Cinque Terre is Manarola. Interestingly, I just checked it out on Google Maps and parking there seems a lot better than Vernazza. Yes – it’s just out of the village too, but there are a couple of small car parks along with a lot of parking along the side of the street. So it looks more possible.

Also, when I was taking a preliminary look at accommodation around Cinque Terre I found a reasonably-price Airbnb outside of the main villages while there was nothing at all in our target price-range in the villages. It may be different if we try for a family room in a hotel though. With that said, I have certainly taken your comments on-board, and it seems we’ll really have to give this some thought.

In terms of the car – we were aiming for a bit of a round trip back to Switzerland since returning it to Switzerland saves us paying a one-way fee of somewhere between US$500 and US$800 (depending on the hire company we settle on). That is a considerable amount of money so we are definitely looking to do that. I guess the other option would be to head straight from Nice to Lugano to return the car, then take some trains to see the things we’re keen on in Italy.

Just a few other questions (if I may), which will give me some more to think about:
– If we still decide to heard to Florence/Siena, what do you think of the idea of skipping Florence and doing just Siena (since you say Siena is basically a smaller version of Florence)?
– Did you have any thoughts on taking one of the nights from Lugano and staying a night on one of the northern Italian lakes instead?
– If we don’t make it to Cinque Terre can you recommend any other appealing villages on the northern coast of Italy (perhaps between Nice and Genoa) which we could visit instead?

Thanks Roger.



    Ah yes, being able to avoid a big charge on a rental car by returning it in Switzerland does sound compelling. And the Lugano return could actually work well, as that’s a lovely area itself.

    Florence is very striking, but the main sights are the museums and cathedrals and such, and I totally understand if those sound dull. Siena does look a lot like Florence except it has far fewer visitors so it’s not so overwhelming. And it’s got some historic cathedrals and whatnot as well, so you can still pop in for a quick visit. I think skipping Florence for Siena would be fine.

    I’ve only been through Lugano in transit, and I spend a few days staying in Varenna, which is one of the easier-to-reach towns on Lake Como. Again, parking won’t be easy, but there are enough similar small towns around there that you should be able to find a place with a parking spot, and you can reach all of the other towns easily and cheaply by ferry.

    I don’t know of any good Cinque Terre alternatives around there off hand, although I’m sure there are some. Mainly it’s that 3 or 4 of those 5 “lands” have incredibly photogenic harbors and colorful buildings bunched around them. They really are a sight to see, but the only other main activity is walking the trails between the villages, and those trails are usually crowded when the weather is nice, and sometimes closed after a rain storm. The problem is the towns are now so popular with tourists that it feels like being in Disneyland. Maybe you could spend half a day checking them out and then drive to some random town with better parking and fewer tourists? There is a popular American travel writer named Rick Steves and if you buy his book (or ebook) you’ll have great recommendations for all of the places you are going and probably some good alternatives for drivers. He recommends various hill towns in Italy that are long on charm and not packed with tourists, and I know some of them have decent parking options (because they are small and surrounded by farm land). I hope this helps. If you spend US$20 or even US$30 on Rick Steves Italy I think it’ll be the best money you spend to have the best trip possible. -Roger

Chris P says:

Thanks for your comments once again Roger. Most helpful. I need to sit down and have a good think about whether we stick with the car for the Italy leg, but if we do I think I can really see us skipping Florence and doing Siena, plus finding some smaller towns as you suggest. We did see some amazing churches and cathedrals in 2017 in Belgium and the UK, so I don’t think we’d feel we were missing anything too much if we didn’t head to Florence.

Thanks for the suggestion of Rick Steves as well. I have heard of him (a number of times) but have never looked at his stuff, so it might be a good time to do that.

Fortunately I do research things well before booking, so I usually find the options if cars aren’t easy in particular places – but it’s all a matter of having the time to look into it properly. Rick Steves might make that a bit quicker!

Rhonda says:

I am so happy to have found your website! We are planning our first trip to Europe (approx 3 weeks starting around Apr 24) and it’s a bit overwhelming. We want to see and do as much as possible, but really need some good advice. I’ve been doing some research and so many people say to only choose 2 or 3 destinations in that amount of time, but since I’ve read your comments, it seems like we just might be able to work it out with your help.
Ten days of this trip can’t be changed as we will be travelling with 4 other people (all of us active 50-somethings) for that portion of the trip. 3 days in Paris, 2 days in Nice and 5 in Rome. My husband and I have some time off before we meet in Paris so we thought we would spend 3 days in Barcelona first. We are going to do a day trip to Florence during our time in Rome as well. I realize that’s a big rushed but we’d rather do it that way than miss it.
The part I really need help with is what to do after Rome. We will have about a week or so. Our tentative plan was to then take the train to Venice and spend 2 nights and then fly to Santorini for 3 days. My husband really wants to go there and we also thought it might be a nice relaxing way to end our vacation. So the trip looks like this:
Apr 25-27 – Barcelona
Apr 28-30 – Paris
May 1-2 – Nice
May 3-7 – Rome
May 8-10 – Venice
May 11-13 – Santorini

Santorini only works if I can find good flights out of Venice, but now I see that the best flights are out of Rome. This is where I need some help and expertise. I’ve also heard Orvieto is a nice place to visit. Just not sure how that would fit in though. After May 8, nothing is carved in stone so I’m open to any suggestions.

Thanks so much



    I’m glad you found this website too. I get frustrated when other travel writers (who have spent years on the road) tell people they should spend a week or more in each destination. On a first trip to Europe you definitely want to see quite a few different places because it’s not like you can keep flying back and forth twice each year to see all the places on your list. As you might have seen, I highly recommend 3 nights in almost any place you go, which I think is the sweet spot between traveling quickly and staying long enough to see the highlights.

    One thing that may surprise you is that the Greek Islands including Santorini are typically pretty dead until late May or early June because they don’t really get “beach weather” until then. In fact, the islands are mostly closed from November through early April, and then the season starts slowly. So if you went to Santorini you’d be able to see the historic sights and the weather would be pleasant, but it might not be the scene you were hoping for at that time of year. And I also assumed you’d have to change planes from Venice to Santorini as well.

    I haven’t been to Orvieto, though I have heard that it’s nice, although I don’t think it has enough to see for more than a couple days. Something you could consider would be to go from Rome to Sorrento, which is a lovely town a bit south of Naples and an excellent hub for stays like that. It’s really nice on its own (and a great place to sample Limoncello), as it’s a small and pleasant city with great restaurants that is also unusual in that many locals speak some English. It’s an ideal base for day trips to Naples (great city but best as a day trip), Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast, and the Isle of Capri, all of which are close by. The beaches there will be quiet in early May as well, but the weather should be nice and everything will be open.

    Venice is really amazing though and definitely something to see at least once in your life for a day or so, and two days is even better. Another option would be to visit Venice and then take a train to Milan and then catch a train through the Alps into Switzerland where you’ll want to head to the Interlaken area. There you’ll find Europe’s (and some of the world’s) best mountain scenery, and the train ride getting there is also gorgeous. As always, let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Rhonda says:

Thank you so much for your response! I was starting to think we should skip Venice but now I really want to make sure to include it. Thanks for your other insights and suggestions too.

Chris P says:

Hey there Roger. We have 2 nights at Venice but not sure yet if we will stay on the main island or on the mainland. Since budget is a big concern for us I assume it will be the mainland. If that is the case, and we spend just 1 full day on Venice itself do you think it’s worthwhile seeing the other islands (e.g. Murano & Lido) or would you stick to the main island? Thanks



    I’ve spent most of my time on the main island and I highly recommend staying there if you can possibly afford it. As I’ve said so often, the main island is where all of the big sights are located and it’s packed to the gills with cruise passengers and day trippers from about 09:00 until 18:00 each day. So the best strategy, if you can pull it off, is to pay a bit more to stay on the main island and then wake up early to wander around before things get crowded, and then wander around in the evening when most of the crowds have left. Restaurants there close pretty early (most by or before 10pm) so it’s not a party island, but it really is lovely with fewer people around.

    I haven’t been to Murano or Lido, but I’ve heard quite a bit about them. Murano, as you probably know, is where many people go to check out a super-touristy glass factory and sometimes buy overpriced souvenirs. Lido, on the other hand, is quite nice and much less crowded so that could be a good place to escape from the crowds in the middle of the day. You can get back to the mainland any time in the evening so you can still stay later and have dinner there. It’s just that most visitors are so worn out from the crowds by the end of the afternoon that they prefer to head back to their hotels (or buses) and have dinner somewhere else. -Roger

Chris P says:

Thanks for the comments Roger. Definitely taking them on-board. I’ll check out the accommodation options then make a decision. Sounds like we don’t miss anything by not seeing Murano and often it makes planning easier, knowing what NOT to see, as much as knowing what TO see… Chris.

Claire says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks to your page I find this really helpful!

We’re traveling to Europe during the holy week to first week of May. Do you think this is a feasible itinerary considering we want to attend easter sunday mass at the Vatican and visit Disneyland in Paris?

Rome – 3 days
Florence – 2.5 days
Venice – 1.5 days
Verona – 1 day
Amsterdam – 2.5 days
Paris including Versailles – 4 days

If you can also provide some tips as to which places we should consider getting passes and taking hop-on/hop-off buses.




    I’m glad you find this useful. I’ve not been in Rome during Holy Week and I hear it’s quite crowded, but as long as you have hotels and trains and flights booked well in advance it should be great.

    Your itinerary should work well. You can take trains within Italy and then fly from Venice or Milan to Amsterdam, and then the high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris to finish the trip out.

    The Rome and Vatican Pass is a good deal as long as you are doing the included attractions, but that week some of them might be very crowded.

    The Paris Pass is also a good deal for most people and it includes my favorite hop-on, hop-off bus tour in the world (I’ve done dozens of them and Paris is the best). I also highly recommend the included Seine River cruise shortly after sunset. The Amsterdam Pass can be a good deal if you want to see a lot and aren’t fond of walking, but for most people it’s not ideal. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Tehreem says:

Hi Roger,

Your detailed itinerary has been very helpful! I am in the process of planning my honeymoon and wanted to run through some ideas. We are planning to travel August 2020. So far, this is what I have come up with:

Fly to Paris (3 nights) (maybe Versailles as well?)
Nice (2-3 nights) with trips to Cannes, Monaco
Cinque Terre (1-2 nights)
Florence (2 nights)
Milan on way to Lake Como (2 nights)
Fly back home from Milan

3 years ago, I did a trip to Italy and saw almost all the cities on my wish list (Rome, Florence, Pisa, Tuscany (San Gimignano, Chianti, Sienna), Capri, Postiano, Amalfi, and Venice. My finance has been to Rome and Venice before as well. We are trying to not repeat cities we have already visited but I thought Florence would be a good city to repeat together.

Any tips on must do places between the French and Italian Rivera? Also, what would be the best way to travel from Nice to Cinque Terre? Both of us have an infinity to Italy but want to make sure we spend our ~2 weeks seeing the most of these places.

Thank you in advance!!



    I’m glad the above article has helped, and I think your plan sounds very good. It’s great that you’ve seen so much of Italy already and I agree that seeing new places is usually better. Paris in August is wonderful because the city feels half empty since so many office workers are gone for the month.

    I think your plan for the France and Italy coasts is good, although parts might be tricky. The reason that Paris feels half empty in August is that so many people are on the coasts, so the Riviera will be packed and at the highest hotel rates of the year. If you book something early you should be able to get good value, and the hotels only hold so many people so it’s not like there will be sleeping in the streets, but it will be crowded. With only 2 or 3 nights I agree that spending time in Nice itself is wise (it’s a major highlight and the best transportation hub), and half a day in Cannes and half a day in Monaco are the two best day trips (each 20 minutes away by train).

    Now, as for the Cinque Terre, those are five tiny villages (unlike those larger French cities) and people say they have become so crowded that it’s hard to enjoy them anymore. August will obviously be a peak time to visit, so it’s hard to say whether you should join the crowds. There are other less-famous Italian beach towns closer to Genoa that you might try instead, and then you can at least take a train for part of a day to see Vernazza, which is arguably the most photogenic village. Either way, you can take a train from Nice to Genoa in 3 to 4 hours and then transfer to the local train that goes to La Spezia, and also stops in all five villages. From La Spezia to Florence you can take a fast train.

    Lake Como will also be at peak crowding in August, but it’s a pretty large area and if you book early you should find something nice at a decent price. As always, let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Nivedita says:

Hi Roger,

Your site is simply awesome! The patience you have in replying and clarifying doubts is just amazing. I too need your advice in planning my itinerary. Iam right now in Manosque, France – came here just a month back from India as my husband has been posted here. In January my niece is visiting us and she wants a trip to Europe. We (myself, my husband and my 16 year old daughter) have not ventured out anywhere so far…not even to Paris. My niece will be arriving in Paris on Jan 14 2020. So right now what we have planned is we will go to Paris on 13 Jan night from Aix (TGV) and planning for PAris trip for 2 days. We need to be back in Manosque on 16th. We are planning to visit Nice, Antibes, Cannes, Monaco on 18th and 19th. Then planning for a trip to Italy and Switzerland (my daughter and niece are adamant about Switzerland though the weather there is going to be extremely cold). WE have just 6 days ie 20 Jan to 26 Jan. 26 Jan night or 27 morning we need to be back in Manosque. Is it doable? How do you suggest we plan it?
Marsielle to Florence (bus)
Florence to Venice, then to Rome (20th, 21st and 22 nd )
Rome to Spain is possible? (maybe Barcelona?) (23 and 24?)
How do I travel to Switzerland? It is confusing…my husband says we are closer to Switzerland and so we should plan th from here itself. WHat do you suggest? I think my query is as confusing as Iam right now. Can you please help?

Thank you so much!!



    I’m happy you are finding the site to be helpful. My standard recommendation is to spend 3 nights in almost any European city that you visit. That said, I think you could enjoy Italy in 6 total days with one day in Venice, two days in Florence, and three days in Rome. Those cities are about two hours apart by train and by the time you check out of one hotel and check into a hotel in the next city, half the day will be gone. You could save Florence for a future trip, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to see each city in just one day.

    From where you are you’d have to get to Geneva to enter Switzerland and I’m not sure how long that takes to get there. From Geneva you are still several hours from the better tourist areas by train. This article about where to go in Switzerland should help you plan that trip at least.

    I definitely wouldn’t try to add Spain onto an Italy or Switzerland trip unless you had at least 3 days to spend there. Most of these cities are pretty large and packed with wonderful sights. If you only have 4 hours for sightseeing you’ll be able to see one or two things at most and then you’ll have to have dinner and prepare to leave the next morning. I’m happy to help you plan this trip, although I think you need more time or fewer places to try to fit in. -Roger

Nivedita says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks! Yes you are right! I have to replan the trip I guess..
What do you suggest?
Marseille to Florence, then from there to Venice and then Rome and then back to Marseille? Will this plan work out? Though I still haven’t finalized as to how to travel to Venice from Florence and then from Venice to Rome. I found that there are some high speed trains from Florence to Venice.. do you have any information on that? Also, 2 days in Paris is definitely not enough…but then we can’t do anything about that. Want your help on how to make best use of the two days. My daughter is very very excited about the Paris trip….a typical teenager’s dream is what she is having now – I want her to really enjoy the trip. Eiffel tower is definitely present on the list, Iam a bit confused about the museums though. Any inputs from you will be appreciated.
Thanks for the link on Switzerland. It is really helpful. We will skip the Swiss tour this time and maybe add one extra day to our Italy trip. We aill be in France until Sep next year and so I guess Spain and Switzerland can wait.

Thanks so much!



    Generally speaking it’s much better to use trains than buses in that part of Europe. The trains are almost always MUCH faster (and more comfortable) and if you buy at least a few weeks in advance they tend to be pretty cheap as well, especially in Italy. It’s probably best to get a fast train from Marseille to Milan and then a train to Venice and then to Florence and then to Rome from there.

    As for Paris in two days, my best advice is to do the hop-on, hop-off bus tour on your first morning. It takes about 3 hours or so and you’ll see almost all of the most amazing sights and buildings in Paris before lunch on your first day. They leave from just in front of the Eiffel Tower. Nearly everyone wants to visit the Louvre, but it’s so huge that it would take 3 or 4 hours just walking full speed through it, so I’d just look for the Mona Lisa and a few other things that appeal to you and try to spend no more than two hours there. Actually, the Museum d’Orsay across the river is a MUCH nicer museum and filled with classic art, so if you want to more fully explore one museum I’d choose that one. I have a lot more advice on my review of the Paris Pass. Even if you don’t buy a Paris Pass I think it’ll be helpful. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Temitayo says:

Thank you for the detailed information. I am planning a trip and will be adopting this itinerary. Please provide information on the train or even a link to purchase the train tickets from one city to the other based on this itinerary. Thank you in advance for your help.



    For trains originating in France you should book at the official France rail website, and for trains originating in Italy you should book at the official Italy rail website. For nearly all city-to-city trains, the earlier you book the cheaper it can be, so booking a month or two in advance is best. For trains to the suburbs or from between Naples and Sorrento, you can buy train tickets on travel day and it’ll be the same price. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

JOY says:

Hello Roger. I found your articles very helpful. My friends and I are planning a first time 3 week trip that may look like this:
Amsterdam-London-Paris-Switzerland (Interlaken and Lucern)-Italy (Rome and Cince Terre)- Prague. We’d have to fly back to Amsterdam for the flight back home. We would be using mostly trains and then a flight in and out of Prague. Do you think this is do-able or what cities should we skip?
Thanks in advance for your help.



    This trip sounds really great. My general recommendation is to spend 3 nights in almost any European city you visit, but London and Paris are large enough that 4 days is better if you have the time.

    The one city I’d recommend saving for a future trip on your list would be Prague. It’s an amazing place, but it’s very far from all of your others so you’d have to fly in and then fly on to your next stop. If you saved that for later you could do all of it by train, except for a flight back to Amsterdam at the end. Taking trains around Europe is FAR more enjoyable than flying around, and you’ll get some great scenery on many of those rides.

    For Italy you’d probably have enough time to stop in Venice for a day or so and then Florence for 2 or 3 days on your way to Rome. You might even do Cinque Terre as a day trip from Florence instead of staying there. As for Switzerland, it’s very expensive so you might only spend 2 nights in Lucerne, and perhaps only 2 nights in Interlaken if you are tight on funds. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other specific questions. -Roger

Ken says:

Hello Roger: My wife and I (both 65) are considering a trip that starts in Nice, and then travels to Italy. Approximately 7 days in duration…coming from the USA. Can you recommennd a good itinerary and estimated ccosts. Whould you recomment a rental car or rail pass? Thanks


    Hey Ken,

    If you’ve only got 7 days, I’d recommend no more than 3 stops because it takes a good chunk of the day to get from one city to another and check out and into hotels and such. I’d spend 2 or 3 nights in Nice and then head to Italy. The most common stops in Italy are Rome, Florence, and Venice. I’d probably fly from Nice to Venice and spend about 24 hours there and then take a train to Rome for your final 3 nights there. If you had 8 or 9 nights I’d recommend stopping in Florence after Venice for two nights or so.

    As for costs, it’s hard to say because everyone has different preferences. If you stayed in modest 3-star hotels (with good locations) and didn’t splurge much on meals, you could do this for as little as about US$100 per person, per day. In other words, you should be able to find acceptable hotels starting around €100 (US$117) per night for a double room, including breakfast. Under the current circumstances I’m sure there are great bargains at nicer hotels. All of that said, you can spend double that amount easily. The flights from Nice to Venice will be cheap if you book well in advance. The trains within Italy are also cheap if booked at least a couple weeks out.

    A rental car would be a big hassle, partly because parking is a challenge in every European city. And rail passes are only worthwhile for longer trips where you want to be able to make plans as you go. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Warren Rula Matutino says:

Hi Roger.

What a nice site you have here. I have a question. My wife and I are planning to go to Europe next year probably around May or September. We plan to spend five days in Paris, four days in Rome, three days in Florence and two days in Venice. While in Paris for five days, we would like to make a side trip to London for one day and another side trip to Bruges for another day? We plan on taking bus tours while in London and Bruges to take in as much sites as possible. Would that be doable and/or practical? What do you suggest?



    Thank you. Those side trips from Paris ARE possible, although both would be very busy days. The Eurostar leaves from Gare du Nord frequently and takes about 90 minutes each way, but you have to be there at least 30 minutes early (like a flight) and security is pretty heavy so it’s best to arrive at least 45 minutes early. So as long as you book on a morning departure, say, 8 AM, you will arrive at St. Pancras station in London well before 10 AM. It’s fairly center so you could take the tube to Big Ben (which is near loads of other famous landmarks) in 30 minutes or so.

    The trains go pretty late, so you could even book a 8PM departure and leave after dinner in London and still be back in your Paris hotel room by 11 AM. It’s important to book at least 3 months out though as fares rise and availability is tougher as the date draws closer.

    For Bruges you take the Thalys train, also from Gare du Nord, to Brussels in a bit over 90 minutes and then switch to the local train to Bruges that takes another hour. You need reservations on the Paris to Brussels train, and buying early is also cheaper and better, but at least you can walk on the train just before it departs.

    If you are going to do both of those, or even just one, it seems wise to book a hotel close to Gare du Nord. It’s a pretty good and central area anyway, and it will make both of those day trips much easier. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger


Leave a Comment

    Name (required)
    Mail (will not be published) (required)