9 Best first-time Europe itineraries for 1, 2, or 3 weeks

Nearly everyone who wants to visit Europe for the first time is determined to see at least a few different places on that trip. Many people make the mistake of thinking they can maximize what they see by going from one city to the next every day or two, but that is actually a better way of getting to know Europe's trains and train stations than it is of enjoying Europe.

Hopefully you have more than a week for your first visit, as even 10 days is far better than just the 7 since you are likely coming from a long way in the first place. The longer you have the better your trip and the more you'll get to see, but racing from place to place isn't as fun as you might assume. Below are 9 starter itineraries of about a week each. Choose the one that sounds most interesting to you, and build from there with your remaining time.

There are 9 starter itineraries described in detail below

  1. Classic London and Paris
  2. England and Scotland
  3. France, Belgium, and Netherlands
  4. Paris and elsewhere in France
  5. Italy
  6. Spain
  7. Germany
  8. Switzerland
  9. Best of cheap eastern Europe

For each itinerary there are suggestions of other destinations that are easy to add on to the main cities.

Building the best itinerary for your first trip to Europe

Below there are 9 popular itineraries for one week in Europe. If you've only got a week then choose one of them and assume you'll return again to conquer more of this amazing part of the world. If you've got more time then you can choose from some of the top add-on suggestions for each one.

Start in the most famous cities

Your first visit to Europe is no time to try to be different or edgy. I recommend that you focus on these 5 great cities before you start branching out into cheaper or more obscure places.

Keep your travel days to a minimum

The closest major European cities are at least two hours apart by high-speed train, and from the time you check out of one hotel until you are checked into your hotel in the next city, it's going to be 5 or more hours in most cases. A travel day isn't much of a sightseeing day, so if you change cities every day or two, you'll have very little time to see the things you've actually gone all that way to see.

Spend 3 (or 4) nights in almost every major city

Cities like London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Berlin, Madrid, and Barcelona are all large and packed with world-class things to see and do. Since the day you arrive and the day you leave will offer little sightseeing time, you need at least two full sightseeing days in order to even see your choice of the top sights.

3 (or 4) nights will be enough for any city on your first trip

Most first-time visitors are tempted to move too quickly, but it can also be a mistake to move too slowly. It's really amazing how much you can see in two full sightseeing days. If you spend too long in one city you'll end up seeing things that are way down your list, while you could be in another city seeing things at the top of your list there.

Choose cities that are easy to reach from each other

Since traveling from one city to another will take at least half a day, you don't want to waste more time by visiting far-flung cities. Prague and Madrid are both fantastic cities to visit, but they are on opposite ends of Europe.

For your first trip it's best to visit cities that are no more than a 5-hour train ride apart.

Choose cities that are connected by reasonable train rides rather than flights

To build on the point above, finding cheap flights within Europe is easy, but train travel is about a million times more enjoyable and less stressful. You'll enjoy the train rides almost as much as the cities, so focus on places that are within 5 hours of each other by train.

Start with one of the classic itineraries below, and then add to it if you have more time

If you only have 7 days then you'll find a list below of classic itineraries that are well-suited to a first visit to Europe. Hopefully you have more than 7 days though, and if you do you can add in one or more of the suggested add-on cities to build an itinerary that appeals most to you.


Best 1-week itineraries for the first time in Europe

Itinerary 1: Classic London and Paris

Fly into either city and take the 2-hour Eurostar train between them

Honestly, unless you have a specific reason why not, this is probably the best one-week itinerary for most first-time visitors to Europe. If you can read this article then London will be easy for language reasons. It's packed with famous sights and it's a major world capital.

Paris is actually far more beautiful than London and the food is famously much better as well. Since Paris gets so many tourists from non-French speaking countries, it's easy to get by on just English, and the Metro system makes it fast and easy to get around.

Best add-ons to London and Paris


Itinerary 2: England and Scotland

London to York: 2 hours
York to Edinburgh: 2 hours 30 minutes

If you prefer to focus your first Europe trip on England and Scotland, you can have a great time and save the Continent for next time. London is the obvious place to start and spend 3 or 4 nights before taking the train north.

York is a small Roman city with intact city walls and one of the most famous cathedrals in Europe. Edinburgh is not only the capital of Scotland, but it's easily the second most interesting city in all of Britain. If your time is short, skip York and spend more time in Edinburgh.

Best add-ons to England and Scotland

If you think you want to spend your whole trip in Britain you should have a look at our article on the best itineraries in England, Scotland, and Wales.


Itinerary 3: France, Belgium, and Netherlands

Paris to Brussels: 1 hour 22 minutes
Brussels to Bruge: 58 minutes
Bruges to Amsterdam: 2 hours 45 minutes
Amsterdam to Paris: 3 hours 17 minutes

If you want to save the UK for a future trip, starting in Paris on a first Europe visit is ideal. You'll probably land in the morning so you'll have almost 3 full days for Paris sightseeing. After that you can hop on a high-speed train for 1 hour 22 minutes to reach Brussels, or go straight to Amsterdam in a bit over 3 hours total.

Spending 4 nights in Paris and 3 nights in Amsterdam would be a great trip, but if you want to see something else you've got a couple options in between. My advice is to spend an afternoon looking around the Grand Place (main square) in Brussels and then hop a 58-minute train ride to Bruges for a night or two. Brussels isn't a great tourist city, but Bruges really is so it's a better option for most people. Whatever you choose out of this group, you can be back in Paris on another high-speed train for your flight home.

Best add-ons to France, Belgium, and Netherlands


Itinerary 4: Paris and elsewhere in France

And a choice of:

  • Nice/Cannes/Monaco (2 or 3 nights)
  • Avignon (2 nights)
  • Bourges (2 nights)
  • Bordeaux (2 nights)
  • Aix-en-Provence (2 nights)
  • Reims (2 nights)
  • Dijon/Burgundy (2 nights)

France is such a rich country for tourism experiences that you could spend a month there and still feel like you are missing significant sights. Obviously you'll want to start in Paris, and then after that it's just a matter of what interests you most and how much time you have.

While Nice is a wonderful tourist city for a look at the French Riviera, the other larger cities of Lyon and Marseilles are probably better saved for a future trip because they are light on key sights compared to many smaller towns. Wine lovers can rent a car or take trains into Bordeaux or Burgundy. Since you can get between most of these towns by train in 2 hours or less, spending only 2 nights in each one is a reasonable option if you want to see a lot in a short time.

Best add-ons to Paris and elsewhere


Itinerary 5: Italy

Rome to Florence: 1 hour 16 minutes
Florence to Venice: 1 hour 53 minutes

Especially for first-time visitors to Europe, Italy might be the most popular destination of all, and for good reason. The country has a famous “Big 3” destinations in Rome, Florence, and Venice, which are all teaming with worthwhile sights and they are conveniently located fairly short train rides from each other. Rome is by far the largest of those and it's packed with great sights, but it's also a bit chaotic, so 3 nights is a good stay for a first visit.

Venice is small enough that you can see the main sights in about 24 hours, and it's so insanely crowded that many people tire of it after about a day as well. It's better to pay more for a hotel to be on the main island and visit quickly than to save money with a hotel on the mainland where you'll be in crowds going back and forth as well. Florence is the most relaxing of the 3, and also a great base for side trips to Pisa, Siena, and Cinque Terre, just to name a few.

Best add-ons to Italy

  • Milan (1 or 2 nights)
  • Lake Como (2 nights)
  • Siena (2 nights)
  • Cinque Terre (1 night)
  • Naples/Sorrento/Amalfi Coast/Pompeii/Capri (3 to 5 nights)
  • Sicily (3 to 4 nights)

Itinerary 6: Spain

Madrid to Barcelona: 2 hours 30 minutes

Spain is another huge country with many things to see, but on your first visit to Europe it's best to focus on its two huge cities. Madrid, which is the capital, and Barcelona, which is on a northern Mediterranean beach, are very different from each other and not substitutable for each other at all. A day trip on a 33-minute train ride from Madrid to Toledo is very worthwhile, although there are many other options.

A huge part of Spain's tourism industry is built around its southern beaches and islands such as Ibiza, Mallorca, and Tenerife. For most people it's best to ignore those places on your first trip because none of the beaches are special enough to spend days on them compared to the culture of the cities.

Best add-ons to Spain


Itinerary 7: Germany

  • Berlin (3 nights)
  • Munich (2 or 3 nights)
  • Rothenburg ob der Tauber (1 night)
  • Füssen (1 night)

Berlin to Munich: 6 hours 2 minutes
Munich to Rothenburg ob der Tauber: 2 hours 56 minutes
Munich to Füssen: 2 hours 4 minutes

Germany is a popular first-time Europe destination for those with family and/or roots in the country, even if other people save it for a 2nd or 3rd trip. Berlin is the capital and the most interesting city in the country by quite a bit, and it's also pleasantly affordable compared to the other large cities in Germany. Munich is wealthier and more relaxed, and different from Berlin in many other ways as well.

Those two cities are the keys to a Germany visit, and after that you've got a wide variety of choices. I cover most of the popular choices in my article on where to go in Germany, which covers several smaller towns that are major highlights.

Best add-ons to Germany


Itinerary 8: Switzerland

Zurich Airport to Interlaken: 2 hours 10 minutes
Interlaken to Bern: 53 minutes
Bern to Lucerne: 1 hour 50 minutes
Lucerne to Zurich Airport: 1 hour 3 minutes

If you aren't much of a city person at all and you have a much stronger desire to see beautiful scenery and landscapes, then Switzerland could be a good choice for your first visit to Europe. The large cities here such as Zurich, Geneva, Lausanne, and Basel are all fairly dull and very expensive, so it's better to minimize your time in any of them and head straight to the smaller scenic towns.

Interlaken is the best hub for the most dramatic Alps views and experiences. The one-hour cable car ride up to the Schilthorn observation deck is something you'll never forget, and the only thing that might be more dramatic is the train ride up to the Jungfraujoch station, which is the highest in Europe. Lucerne is almost as beautiful with a scenic lake at its heart and also great mountaintop views nearby. If you do want to see a Swiss city then the capital of Bern is the most interesting and photogenic on a short visit. Read more about where to go in Switzerland for even more ideas.

Best add-ons to Switzerland

  • Munich (3 nights)
  • Paris (3 nights)
  • Italy (as long as you've got)

Itinerary 9: Eastern Europe's best cheap cities

This isn't really recommended for a first trip to Europe unless you are a backpacker who is sure they are going to be able to visit Europe again when they have more money. If you can get a cheap enough flight, the 3 best cheap European cities to visit are Prague, Budapest, and Krakow, which are all around half as expensive as most of the other cities on this list.

Each of these cities is beautiful and historic, but English is less widely spoken so they can also be quite a bit more challenging for a first-time visitor. Another difficulty is that the trains between them are still quite slow compared to the high-speed rail in the West, so it takes most of a day from one to another, and a bus is often a better choice.

Prague to Budapest: 6 hours 41 minutes
Budapest to Krakow: 9 hours 54 minutes (flying might be better)

Best add-ons to cheap Eastern Europe



96 Responses to “9 Best first-time Europe itineraries for 1, 2, or 3 weeks”

Andrea says:

This was a great article and very helpful. I am planning to do London -> Paris -> Rome -> Venice. Do you recommend traveling by train, plane or a combination of both? Taking into account time and cost. Thank you!

 

    Andrea,

    Thank you. You’ll want to take the Eurostar train from London to Paris. Then fly from there to Rome, and take the train from Rome to Venice. Buy those train tickets as far in advance (3 to 6 months if possible) for the lowest fares. And the same goes for the flight to Rome. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Ashutosh Tripathi says:

Hi Roger,

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

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

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

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

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

Is Croatia covered in Schengen visa? If not, is it too complicated?

Awaiting your response.

Regards,
Ashutosh Tripathi

 

    Ashutosh,

    Your research looks exactly right to me, and I think you are approaching this in a very intelligent way. First off, Croatia is not yet in the Schengen Zone, and I’m not sure how complicated it would be to get a visa for it.

    I agree that Spain, Portugal, and Greece have the best sandy beaches in Europe. It’s actually kind of amazing how much of Europe’s southern coastline is cliffs or rocks or mountains or anything but sandy beaches. The better beach areas in Croatia will be more expensive than Spain, Portugal, or Greece, so I think I’d focus on the others.

    If you wanted to try Greece you could stop in Athens or 3 days or so to see the famous sights, and then take a ferry or flight to one of its islands for the rest of your trip. Santorini, Mykonos, and Rhodes are among the better ones that also have some cultural and nature sights. Some of the other islands have a few old ruins and some nice beaches, but not much else. Greece is fairly cheap these days, so it could work well for you.

    Spain and/or Portugal are your other best option. In Spain it’s obviously Madrid and Barcelona that are the cultural highlights, and they are very different from each other. The high-speed train between them takes only 2.5 hours. Unfortunately, the main beach areas are not terrible close to either of those. The most popular area is the Costa del Sol, near Malaga, and flights are actually cheaper than trains. Malaga is a very nice city with some history of its own, so that could be a good area for you.

    The other main area is the Costa Blanca, around Alicante and Benidorm. There are no high-speed trains from Barcelona, but there are from Madrid. Flying is another option to consider. I really prefer the area around Malaga though.

    In Portugal it’s Lisbon and Porto that are the main cultural highlights, and the beaches along the Algarve on the southern coast are very nice. All of it is good value, partly because it’s kind of remote compared to Spain. It’s a bit easier to get by in English only in Portugal compared to Spain, but in the main resort areas of Spain it’s pretty easy anyway.

    I’d say my top recommendation would be 3 days in Barcelona, 3 days in Madrid, and then the rest down on the Costa del Sol around Malaga. Hopefully this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Ashutosh Tripathi says:

Thanks a lot Roger.. So Croatia is out of my list for this year… and I somehow am more inclined to Spain or Greece then Portugal.. but then I am super confused to decide between the two..

Help me choose one.. I want to spend not more than 3000-3500 USD overall in the trip including flights.. lower the better..

I am equally fascinated with both countries.. Can you recommend one which looks clearly better?

Ashutosh

 

    Ashutosh,

    This is a tough one. But if I had to choose I’d go for Greece. The flights will be shorter, Athens has a far more interesting history compared to Spain, and it’ll be a bit easier in general with the language. Spain is a very populous country and even the resort areas are filled with locals and other tourists who only know Spanish. My Spanish is poor and I’ve spent months in Spain, so it’s not too difficult. But especially on Greek islands, the main language of tourism is English and they don’t expect anyone to know or learn Greek (aside from maybe a greeting). From the looks of things, the hotels in Greece are a bit better value at the moment compared to Spain as well.

    So again, it’s not that Greece looks “clearly” better, as I’m a big fan of Spain and have spent far more time there. But I think for you, Greece is probably a better option. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Ashutosh Tripathi says:

Thanks a lot Roger.. You have been of great help. I am now mentally prepared for Greece (:

Will share my itinerary with you shortly for a comment.

Ashutosh

 
Gaby says:

Hi Roger,
Me and my husband have never been in Europe and we were looking into a 15 days trip (including travel time) from Toronto during the second week of October. I found a “cheap” flight that will arrive to Barcelona and leave from London and was looking into Barcelona/Madrid (3-4nights)-Paris (3 nights)-Bruges/Brussels (1 night) -Amsterdam (2 nights)-London (3-4 nights). Do you think this is doable? Should we remove or consider any other city? Barcelona, Paris and London are in our must see cities given that this would be our first time in Europe. Thank you for your help.
Gaby

 

    Gaby,

    Your plan is doable, but it is a bit rushed in a couple spots. As mentioned in the article, Barcelona and Madrid are both very large and different cities that are loaded with great sights. If you are landing in Barcelona then I’d spend 3 nights there. You could then take the 2.5-hour train to Madrid, and 2 nights there would be enough for a good look, especially since it’s a short train ride and you can be there before noon. Three nights would be better, but two will work.

    From Madrid you could fly to Amsterdam for the most efficient use of time. What I’d recommend would be to stay 3 nights in Amsterdam (although 2 would still be okay) and skip Brussels and Bruges on this trip. Both of those are lovely cities, but Bruges in particular has quite a bit in common with Amsterdam, so it won’t make as much of an impact and it’s a good one to save for later. That way you could take the 3.25-hour train ride from Amsterdam to Paris and spend 3 days there. Then take the Eurostar to London for 3 or 4 days before flying home.

    As mentioned in the article, the reason I like 3 nights in each place is that gives you 2 full days of sightseeing where you wake up and go to sleep in the same bed. If you only stay 2 nights it means one full day of sightseeing, which really isn’t enough for most great cities. That gives you some choices and if you are within the range of what we discussed, I’m sure it’ll be an excellent trip. I’m happy to give more advice if you need it, so feel free to ask again. -Roger

     
Gaby says:

Hi Roger, thanks for your advice. I’m sure I’ll need your input once we have the actual itinerary.
Gaby

 
Aled D says:

Hi Roger.
Love your website, great tips on travelling, money tips etc.
I have sort of a plan on the places to visit,I will have around 5 to 6 weeks to travel and I’m thinking at the moment. I have Scotland booked for week 1 but the rest is more or less open..although I have also booked Krakow as I’m visiting a friend there. So I have after Scotland.
Amsterdam, Hamburg (day), Copenhagen, Berlin, Prague, Krakow, Budapest, Bratislava (?), Vienna (?), Ljubljana and lake bled. I’m thinking I may have more days somewhere else as I’m averaging 3 days in each place. Was thinking maybe Croatia after. What do you think? Am I doing to much? Or is it ok? Is Montenegro, Bosnia or Serbia worth a visit on this trip?
Many thanks!

 

    Aled,

    Thank you, and this sounds like a fantastic trip. I love a slow-moving trip going this long, and spending 3 nights in each place is ideal. One thing I’d consider would be to assume that about half way in you’ll want to linger for a few days in a smaller town as sort of a break or pause. Three nights in each city means you have two full sightseeing days followed by one travel day. After a few weeks it will feel a bit like a job, so it’s good to assume you’ll rest for a few days.

    Your itinerary looks quite good. I might skip Bratislava, as to be it’s a bit of a dud compared to the others, especially since it’s basically a suburb of Vienna, which is far more interesting. Salzburg would be wonderful if you could mix it in.

    Croatia is a wonderful country for these kinds of trips, and the only thing to be careful about is that Split and Dubrovnik are packed all July and August, since both have many beach hotels in the area. You can still visit either, but you’ll get better value in the towns rather than on the beaches. You should also go through Plitvice Falls National Park, which is one of Europe’s most beautiful sights. Zagreb is okay, but probably not worth 3 nights. You could spend two weeks in Croatia and love every day.

    Sarajevo and Mostar are both worth a visit, especially with Sarajevo’s fascinating Muslim quarter. You can visit those in between Split and Dubrovnik. I lived in Serbia for almost 5 months and don’t really recommend visiting unless you’ve got more time. I haven’t made it to Montenegro yet, but I’ve heard good things. It’s a bit remote and getting around takes some time. It’s also very cheap. I’m happy to help more if you have other questions. Have a lovely trip. -Roger

     
Toby says:

Hi Roger,
Thank you for your website. We have read many of the articles and have gotten good info from them.
We are in a position of many retired people of what to do from Oct. to May. Last year we spent five months in seven Australian cities, that was easy but expensive. This year we were considering Spain, Canary Islands, France and Italy for Oct. thru Dec. Then the Caribbean for 2-3 months.
Do you have other suggestions on what we could do for 6-7 months? We would like to stay in interesting, warm places. Our trip to Australia, last year, was our first trip anywhere.
Thanks,
Toby

 

    Toby,

    I’m very happy to hear that you are finding this information useful. I think your plan sounds fantastic. One way I researched for this website was that I’ve spent about 6 out of the last 11 years out of the US and on the road. Since I can work from anywhere with an internet connection, I went everywhere and lived in many places in Asia and Europe.

    As I’m sure you’ve realized Europe is fairly chilly in October, and by December it’s all cold. So you probably want to start with your northernmost places in October and keep going south through December. The Canary Islands are nicely warm even in December. Tenerife is your best bet among them, and the area around Los Cristianos has the most to offer short-term visitors. It’s fairly boring there, but very pleasant and wonderfully cheap.

    My favorite destinations in the Caribbean for more than a few days in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Since it’s part of the US, it’s very easy even though it still feels fairly exotic. If you know Spanish it helps, but there are plenty of English speakers there. You can rent apartments there at good prices because many people have places that they stay in for a couple months and rent out the rest of the year.

    Another place you might consider is Argentina. Buenos Aires is a really wonderful city and things there are quite cheap these days as well. The food is excellent, especially if you like beef, but there is a variety. You could rent an apartment in Buenos Aires for a month and then maybe spend some time in Mendoza, which is the wine area, or Bariloche, which is the scenic adventure and hiking area. You’ll get great value in all of those places. The reason I suggest Argentina is that it feels very European compared to the rest of South or Central America, so many things will feel familiar, even though it also feels fairly exotic. Some other South American countries have poor infrastructure and getting around can be challenging. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

     
Claudia Giraldo says:

Hi Roger,
I’m planning a Europe trip with my 20 year old daughter for about 3 weeks. She’ll be studying abroad there next year (Scotland and maybe Madrid) so we’ll be arriving with her luggage for the semester. We’re planning on leaving her stuff at a friend’s in Madrid so plan on flying to Madrid from the States. Wanted to include nice beaches (comparable to the Caribbean). Was thinking of Madrid-3 days, Barcelona-3-4 days, Corsica or Sardinia and then stay the rest of the time in Italy. OR after Barcelona fly to Greece and stay the rest of the time there. Would love your advice and also an idea of how much this would cost and which would be the least expensive option.
Thank you much!

 

    Claudia,

    Spain has some very nice beaches and it tends to be cheaper than Italy. I’ve yet to make it to Corsica or Sardinia, and not many Americans seem to visit those islands either, so I don’t have much to say about them aside that I’d assume they are as expensive as France and Italy, which means they’ll be a bit more expensive than Spain and much more expensive than Greece. Italy has a few nice beaches, but they are all so crowded that it’s not as enjoyable as in Spain, where the sandy beaches go on for miles.

    Greece is a fantastic bargain right now, even compared to the others on your list. Many of the islands have some nice beaches, but they are rocky on other islands or even mostly cliffs on other islands, so you have to choose carefully. I’d say maybe 3 days in Athens and then to Santorini could be the cheapest great option on your list. As for the total cost, I think the best I can do is direct you to my 3-star Traveler Index for Europe. Each city on the list has a daily total, which is a pretty typical budget for a 3-star traveler who is sharing a room. If you will also do some shopping, that would have to be added on. You’ll find a listing for many places on your list. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Mohaddeseh says:

Hi
My husband and I want to visit Europe in 28 day. Our favorite countries to visit are spain, Italy, germany, france and swiss. Could u plz tell me how to manage the trip?

 

    Mohaddeseh,

    If you have 28 days I’d recommend choosing 8 to 10 cities to visit. Three nights in each city is pretty much ideal because it allows you two full sightseeing days in each place, so you aren’t spending every other day on trains or in airports. Of course another factor is you want to string together places that are easy to reach from each other. For example you could do Rome to Florence to Venice, as they are all 90 to 120 minutes by train from each other. Then you could take a train to Nice in southern France and then up to Paris, or you could go to Barcelona and then Madrid and then fly to Paris. After Paris you could take a train to Interlaken for a few days of seeing the best sights in the Alps. After that you could take a train to Munich and then Berlin.

    That is probably too many cities to visit in 28 days, even though Venice is small enough to visit in 1 or 2 days. But some itinerary like that, maybe with a couple of cities removed, should work well for you. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Parinitha says:

Hi Roger,
Delighted to see the details you provide. My husband and I are planning to travel to Europe from 14th Sep to 1st Oct this year. We wish to visit the following cities but are not sure if it will be a bit much.
1. Italy (Rome- 4 nights, Venice 1-2 nights, Florence-2 nights)
2. Paris 3 nights
3. Vienna 2 nights
4. Praque 2 nights
5. Swiss Alps (can we do a day trip from one of the destinations?

Could you help us with the following:
1. If we have to miss one or two places, can you suggest the ones where we dont waste too much time in travel?
2. Which countries would be ideal for the dates that we plan to visit?
3. Are there any other places that are ideal for a visit during our travel dates and must be included in the itinerary?
4. Are Salzburg and Inssbruck worth a visit and similary any other places in Czech that are not to be missed?

Thank you in anticipation 🙂
Parinitha

 

    Parintha,

    You can visit the edge of the Alps in Italy, Austria, Germany, or France. You could even go to Salzburg from Vienna. But to really see the most impressive Alpine sights and views, you need to get to the Interlaken area of Switzerland, which is impossible to do as a day trip from another country.

    1. Prague is rather out of the way from the other places on your list, so if I had to save one stop for a future trip, it would be that one. That said, I prefer Prague to Vienna because Prague is more fun and Vienna is more formal.

    2. The second half of September is nearly perfect for every place in Europe except the Nordic countries. In fact, I just posted an article yesterday with my best Europe destinations in September recommendations, and it includes all of them on your list. I wrote notes about September for each place so you might find it interesting.

    3. Again, you could go anywhere, so the weather won’t be an issue.

    4. Salzburg is a wonderful tourist city for its views and historic town center. Innsbruck is kind of dull and it’s really just a ski resort town with almost no worthwhile sights.

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

     
Parinitha says:

Hi Roger,
That was prompt and very helpful. Gives me a good idea to get started. Thanks a lot. 🙂

 
Joanna says:

Hello Roger!

I’m going to Europe in March 2018 and will be there for 20 days. I’m flying into Paris but will travel elsewhere. My plan is to go to London, Brussels, Berlin, Rome (or another city in Italy), and Barcelona.This seems like a bit much but I don’t know where to cut my trip short. What is your suggestion?

Thanks in advance!

 

    Joanna,

    If you have 20 days I would plan for 6 or 7 cities total. From Paris you can take the Eurostar to London and then again to Brussels. It’s fast (2 to 3 hours) and tickets are reasonable if you book at least a few months in advance.

    From Brussels the train to Berlin takes just over 7 hours, and to be honest the route is flat and pretty boring. It would be a bit faster to fly, and probably a bit cheaper as well. But the train would still be more enjoyable. After hundreds of European train rides, 7 hours is right around my limit as to when it starts to feel like a drag. If it were me I’d still take the train, even if it’s a bit more expensive, but flying would be a bit faster.

    Since Berlin is not close to Rome or Barcelona, it would really be best to fly for the rest of the trip. Those flights will be quite cheap that time of year, especially if you book very early (3 months or more in advance). There is a high-speed train from Barcelona in 6.5 hours for your way back to your flight home. I think those 6 cities in 20 days would be ideal. I’d do 4 nights in London and 4 nights in Paris. You could do Brussels (or even Bruges, which I prefer) in 2 nights. If you are going to pick exactly one Italian city for your first visit, Rome is the best choice and I’d spend 3 days there. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Monali says:

Hi Roger! I am planning a trip to Dubai to visit my brother and his family this December and I am very tempted to might as well visit some Europe cities for 2 weeks with my mum. We are travelling from New Zealand since my workplace shuts down (for holiday season) for at least 2 weeks this is the best time to travel. But I am having second thoughts as it is winter season in Europe, i don’t want to spend a lot of money (so budget is average) but want it comfortable because my mum is on her early 60’s. Can you suggest an itinerary If we push theough its gonna be from January 19-February 3. Your advice will be greatly appreciated. Cheers!- Monali

 

    Monali,

    Early this year I started a new series that highlights the best European destinations for each month of the year. The first one I did was best Europe places in February, and I think that should help you get a start. The bottom line is that in the winter like that you either want to focus on the places in the south that don’t get as cold, as well as the truly great big cities that are still bustling in winter such as London and Paris. I would put less focus on the more eastern cities such as Krakow or Prague that time of year, because it can be quite bitter outside and less fun.

    You can’t really go wrong with Italy either, as it’s reasonably warm in winter and it’s still busy enough to be fun that time of year. Hopefully that list at least helps you get some ideas. I’m happy to offer further advice if you have more questions along the way. -Roger

     
Ian says:

Hi Roger,
The information that you provide is really useful, but I have some questions. I’m a student who is studying abroad in Germany. My family will be having a trip at the end of September till October for about 16days in Europe. I’m not good with planning trips. For now, my current plan is as below: Germany( Bonn, Cologne, Dusseldorf) for 4 days, Netherland (Amsterdam) for 5 days, Belgium (Bruges for 3 days and Brussels for 1 day), Paris for 3 days. Do you think I’m spending too much of time in a city? Do you have any recommendation or some advice for the trip?
Thank you

 

    Ian,

    This is an interesting question. I have a lot of family in Germany, including a brother who currently lives there, so I’ve been all over the country. In my opinion, Cologne is an interesting city, but the main draw is the cathedral and the historic district surrounding it. You can see all of that in one day or two days at the most. And Bonn and Dusseldorf are examples of modern cities that are mostly new and are really known more for business than for tourism. If you are already in this area then I’m sure they would be interesting places to visit, but otherwise they aren’t very memorable. You might actually be interested in my article on where to go in Germany, as I discuss a few alternatives.

    I’m a huge fan of Amsterdam and I even lived there for a while. Still, it’s kind of a small city and I’d think that 3 or maybe 4 days would be enough. Bruges is much smaller and two days would probably be enough, but it’s very pleasant so I’m sure 3 days would be enjoyable. Brussels in one day sounds good, and you might even think about spending only an afternoon there. The area around the main square (Grand Place) is really lovely, but it’s small and the rest of the city is built more for government employees and business people.

    If you have more time to allocate I’d say that a 4th day in Paris would be worth it. To me, Paris and Amsterdam are 2 of Europe’s 5 great cities to focus on, along with London, Venice, and Rome.

    You might also consider a few days in Switzerland if you have the time. The scenery there is the best in Europe. And Salzburg is another to consider at some point. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. I love travel planning and I’m happy to help more if I can. -Roger

     
Louise says:

Hi Roger,

I’m planning a 3 week trip round Europe with a 4 year old and a 11 month old baby, considering Spain or Croatia. Where would you recommend we go and possibly travelling via camper van.

Many thanks, Louise

 

    Louise,

    It depends a bit on when you are going. Spain gets very hot in summer and I’m not sure it would be comfortable in a camper van. But if you are going in September or later it would probably be very nice. Still, I think Croatia would probably be nicer for that kind of trip and especially in a camper van. The coastline is really lovely and it’s more scenic than most of Spain. Also, you’d want to visit Plitvice Falls National Park in Croatia, which is one of Europe’s most beautiful sights.

    Slovenia is also a beautiful country with Lake Bled and the Karst mountains. Bosnia and Herzegovina is another country you might want to explore. The Sarajevo area is really nice and quite interesting, and Mostar is as well. The southern Spanish coastline is kind of dull by comparison, although I believe that the northern coast has quite a bit to see. I hope this helps. -Roger

     
See Kai says:

Hi Roger, I planning to visit the Europe for 20 Days in middle of November this year, Where would you recommend us to go? London and Paris is in our list!

 

    See Kai,

    Interestingly enough, earlier this year I started a new series that recommends the best cities in Europe (and Asia) for each month of the year. The first one I did was for February, and I’ll be publishing the best Europe destinations in November article this coming week. So if you check the homepage in a couple days you will see it there. But for now I will direct you to the best Europe destinations in February, which will be a very similar list.

    November will be a bit warmer than February, but still the lists will be similar because in either month you generally want to focus on the most famous cities such as London and Paris and Rome, as well as the better cities in the south of Europe such as those in Spain, Portugal, and elsewhere in Italy. So if you have 20 days I’d start with 3 or 4 days in London and then 3 or 4 days in Paris. Then set aside at least a week for Italy. You could easily do 12 or 13 days in Italy without getting bored, but you might instead want to visit Madrid and Barcelona or something along those lines. Have a look at that February article and remember that the temperatures in November will be a bit warmer in all of the places. I think that will give you several interesting ideas for places to add to London and Paris. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Gabriel says:

Hi Roger,

I was thinking about going to europe for 7-10 days in a few weeks for the first time. I am unsure of where to go and how many cities/countries i should visit as i do not want to be short in time. If you were to go to europe for the first time, what would you recomend for me?
Thanks

Of course i read the article, but all places being new, i cannot tell which would be the best for me.

 

    Gabriel,

    It’s interesting that I wrote the article above because I kept getting questions about this topic on another article I wrote a few years ago about Europe’s 5 great cities that you should first focus on. So now I will refer you to that one as I think it will help you get your planning started. The short version is that I highly recommend London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, and Venice as cities to build your first trip around because they are each very different and each amazing.

    But also as I mention in the article above, I think it’s best to spend 3 nights in almost any city you visit, and 4 nights can be better in the larger cities such as London and Paris. So if you have 7 to 10 days I’d recommend London and Paris to start with (connected by the very convenient Eurostar train). And if you are staying for 9 or 10 days you could also take the high-speed train from Paris to Amsterdam to stay 2 or 3 nights there.

    The other option that anyone would love would be to just spend your whole 7 to 10 days in Italy and save the others for your next trip. You can spend 3 nights or even 4 in Rome and then 3 nights or so in Florence and then a night or two in Venice. Each of those is very different and endlessly fascinating. Hopefully at least one of these ideas sounds like a good foundation for your trip. Let me know if you have any questions. -Roger

     
Ashwen Ojha says:

Hi Roger,

I am from Mumbai and planning a trip with my parents next month to Europe [ starting on 11th and ending on 17th]. I know it’s a very short time but, that’s about the time we get in the whole year.
We had been to France and Switzerland on our first trip back in 2012 in a similar time frame and It was very hectic as it involved a lot of travel.

I was looking at a few options you have listed i.e. UK & SCOTLAND for 7 days or Spain & Portugal for 7 days or Only Italy .
I know August is the peak tourist season so will it be a good time to visit any of this options?
Or do you have any other suggestions? We are happy with covering only 2 cities over the course of the trip but shouldn’t involve a lot of travel.

Kindly suggest an itinerary .

 

    Ashwen,

    A week in Europe is far better than no time in Europe. August is the peak month in all of the beach towns and in London as well, but it’s actually somewhat quiet in Paris and Rome (because so many locals are elsewhere and offices shut for the month).

    I’d say your best 3 options would be the ones you already mentioned. Since you are from Mumbai then any of the options will feel fairly cool to you. But of course the UK will actually be a bit chilly if that is what you are looking for (highs around 20C, or even a bit cooler in Scotland).

    So I’d recommend one of these:

    London for 3 or 4 days then Edinburgh for 2 or 3 days and perhaps Inverness for a day or two. That would be nice, but including Inverness would mean a couple more days of travel in that week. If you want to mix a big city with a smaller one you could do London and then York or Bath instead.

    Spain is usually hot in August, and Barcelona is pretty crowded as well. The best week there would be 3 days in Barcelona, and 4 days in Madrid, which would include an easy day trip (one hour each way) to Toledo.

    The best one-week Italy trip is one full day (24 hours if possible) in Venice and then 3 nights in Florence and 3 nights in Rome. That obviously requires those two train rides in addition to getting back to your departing flight, but those train trips are only 90 to 120 minutes each on fast and modern trains so I don’t think they will be a problem.

    Those are some ideas to consider and I’ll be happy to help with more information as you are narrowing down your choice. -Roger

     
Poursha says:

Hi Roger. We’ve got 20 days total and traveling to europe early September. Thinking of doing London, Amsterdam, Prague, Krakow, Budapest, Vienna and Munich.
We are thinking 3 days in each city besides Vienna, where we are thinking 2 nights. I guess my question to you would be in regards to path of travel, and what you think is most effective. So far we’re thinking:
Fly from London to Amsterdam
Fly from Amsterdam to Prague
Overnight train from Prague to Krakow
Overnight train from Krakow to Budapest
train from Budapest to Vienna
train from vienna to Munich
What are your thoughts on this , and if you think we should add/subtract days in any of those cities above, please let us know along with your opinion on best way to transport between each of these cities.

Thank you!

 

    Poursha,

    Your plan looks quite good, and if you’ve read any of my itinerary articles you know that I’m a big fan of 3 days in most cities. Two days in Vienna should work well, and that’s probably the city I would have cut a day out of myself. Your route looks to me like the most efficient way of doing these cities, but I will make a couple comments.

    First off, you could take the Eurostar from London to Brussels and then change there to a high-speed train to Amsterdam. That takes about 4.5 hours total, which is about the same or maybe a bit faster than flying when you consider the time of going from one city center to the other. It’s definitely more enjoyable than flying, even though the scenery isn’t very interesting along the way. If you buy the train tickets early enough it might even be cheaper, although maybe not. It’s just something to consider and I would take the train if I had the choice.

    In general I’m not a big fan of overnight trains, but for the two that you have in mind they are probably the best choice. I encourage you to at least scan that article I linked in the previous sentence so you’ll know what to expect. Still, the daytime trains between those cities are pretty slow and the scenery is pretty bland, so you don’t miss much by going at night. Aside from those comments I think your plan looks great and I’m sure you are going to have a fantastic time. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Poursha says:

Thanks Roger.

That was my concern regarding the overnight trains after reading your link. Our logic was that If we ended up staying in hotels and flying out the following morning – it would cut into valuable time which is scarce for us. Maybe I’ll call my doctor up and ask for a few extra Ambien for that part of the trip lol.

Yeah I think we might end up doing the eurostar from london to brussles then amsterdam. Unfortunate the direct one isn’t happening until early next year!

This might be a stretch but regarding Prague, Krakow, Budapest, and Vienna – would you be able to recommend a specific area within those cities that would be more fun for single 30 year olds? I haven’t done the research on hotels yet but thought I’d ask and see if you could simplify it even more for me.

Thanks again for the solid advice.
Poursha

 

    Poursha,

    For Prague it’s best to stay as close to the city center on the east side of the river as possible. In Krakow the Jewish Quarter, which is a bit west of the center, has the best nightlife. In Budapest you get much better value by staying east of the river, and the nightlife is great even in a mile or so away. Look for what they call “ruin pubs” in Budapest. Vienna is kind of stodgy, but generally if you stay in the main ring you are best off. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Mariewin Lorenzo says:

We will be attending a wedding in Amsterdam and will have at least 9 days. I am looking for a best possible way to explore Paris, London, and others that would include visit to Our Lady of Lourdes (France) and Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal. There will be 8 of us travelling from Canada. If we will be in Amsterdam on Thursday and the wedding on Saturday, I will have Friday and Sunday to the following Saturday (7 days). What is the best itinerary that we can follow to make the most out of travel. Thank you.

 

    Mariewin,

    This sounds like a really interesting trip, and I’m not used to planning pilgrimages. First off, all of those four destinations other than Amsterdam are far enough from Amsterdam that there’s really no way you could visit them on that first Friday without literally spending almost the entire time in transit. Also, Amsterdam is one of the world’s most beautiful and interesting cities so I have a feeling you’ll be quite entertained there.

    Now, if we are looking at Sunday through the next Saturday, that’s just 6 nights. From Amsterdam you can take a train to Paris in just over 3 hours, or you could take a train to London (changing in Brussels to board the Eurostar) in about 5 hours. If you go to Paris first you can then take the Eurostar train from there to London in a bit over 2 hours. The train from Paris to Lourdes takes just under 5 hours. You could fly instead, but it wouldn’t really be any faster when you include the airport transportation, and it would be far less enjoyable compared to the train.

    Fatima is 90 minutes by bus from Lisbon, and it would take far to long to reach Lisbon by ground, so you’d have to fly. Unfortunately, it would be almost impossible to visit all of these places with only 6 nights unless your only goal was to see them quickly and move on right away. The Catholic sights are quite remote, so if those are your top priority the best way to do it would be to take a train from Amsterdam to Paris. Then take a train to Lourdes for as long as you like. From there you could fly from the small nearby airport or take a train to the larger Toulouse Airport for a flight to Lisbon to visit Fatima.

    If you are willing to skip those two distant places on this trip you could take a train from Amsterdam to Paris and spend 3 wonderful days there and then take the Eurostar from Paris to London for your final 3 days. Needless to say, there are important cathedrals in both of those cities as well. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Steve Rosenberg says:

Roger,

You are extremely informative and that’s why I’m asking you for advice. I plan on going to Europe for the 1st time in October. I feel like I might not be going during the most ideal season since I love the warm weather and beaches. I am from New York. I would like to visit at least 3 major cities or countries within 10 days with 2 friends. I would definitely like to visit Spain, what are your thoughts? It will be very much appreciated. Thanks

 

    Steve,

    Thank you for the kind words. Interestingly enough, if I had to pick one month to visit Europe it would be October, with May being a close second. The weather is still warm enough to be pleasant for sightseeing, and the crowds are much smaller and hotel prices are down as well. Most of Europe can be like NYC in summer where if you get unlucky it’s very hot and humid, except far fewer places in Europe have air conditioning. And in Spain you are pretty much guaranteed of a sizzling summer almost every day. September might be better for you, but we will work on October.

    I think your plan of 3 great cities in 10 days is perfect, and you might even have time for a little day trip or two. Since you want to visit Spain I think your key city should be Barcelona since it’s also got beaches and it should at least be warm enough for a pleasant stroll, if not for sunbathing. Then I’d pick 2 of the following 3 cities to add to Barcelona: Madrid, Paris, or London. As I write so often, Madrid and Barcelona are very different from each other so visiting both of them makes sense. However, if you were asking me this as a friend of mine I’d recommend Paris and London. You could fly into Barcelona and spend 3 days there before taking a 6.5-hour train to Paris. You could fly just a bit quicker, but the train is far more interesting and pleasant. Then you can take the Eurostar train from Paris to London in a bit over 2 hours. Then you can fly home from London, or back to Barcelona for your flight home if that’s cheaper. Or you could first fly into London and then immediately fly to Barcelona to start the trip as described.

    For a first trip to Europe I really think Paris is the most magical place, and it’s easy to reach many other worthwhile places from there. London is also a huge favorite because so many people are so familiar with the main sights there and all of that. I’m happy to help with more advice if you need it. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
noa says:

roger hello.

first thank you for a very informative and interesting article.
i would like to get your reccomendations about a 16 days trip to europe.
Im 20 years old from israel and Im planing to go on a trip with a friend during october.
we would like to see nice natural views and beaches in addition to urban views.
we want to visit at least 4 countreis, is it possible?What is the best itinerary that we can follow to make the most out of travel?
again, thank in advance.

 

    Noa,

    In general my recommendation is to spend 3 nights in almost every city or place you visit because shorter stays mean you are spending too much time going between places, and longer stays mean you don’t see as much and you end up doing some second and third tier attractions. So with 16 days I’d plan on 5 stops or maybe 6 stops if one of them is a small town with only a few things to see and do.

    If you want to spend time on a beach you will obviously be limited to southern countries in October. Here is my recent list of the best Europe destinations in October, which includes some beach areas. If I were you I’d start by picking at least one or two of the cities on that list and then seeing where else you can go that is near enough to reach in 6 or fewer hours by train.

    I’m not sure why you want to visit at least 4 countries rather than at least 4 or 5 great places that may be in only 2 countries. But if for some reason you want to rack up some countries for your list you could go to Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, and Italy as one example. The best beaches are mostly in Spain, and if you visit Spain you can also visit Portugal or France, but it won’t be easy to do all 3 or reach another country. Some Greek islands also have nice beaches and October is the last month where you can get nice enough weather, although earlier in the month is better, of course.

    You could also do Italy and France, which both have plenty to keep you busy for the whole 16 days. As far as natural views are concerned, I think the most impressive are in Switzerland and elsewhere in the Alps, but also the Plitvice Falls National Park in Croatia. I hope this at least gives you a bit more to think about. I’m happy to help with more suggestions and details once you narrow down at least one or two main cities or places you want to include. -Roger

     
Geoff says:

Hi Roger,

Thank you for all your amazing itineraries, especially this concise one. My partner and I have only been to Italy (for nearly a month) and would like to plan a multi-country journey this time for 23 nights or less around middle of March 2018. Our current plan:
– Fly into Paris, stay 4 nights (incl. 1 day trip to Chartres)
– Eurail train to Bruges, 1 night
– Amsterdam, 2 nights
– Berlin, 2 nights
– Dresden, 1 night
– Prague, 3 nights
– Munich, 3 nights
– Bern then transfer Interlaken, 3 nights
– Back to Bern, 2 nights, before flight back to Australia.
Does the plan seem feasible? Should I change smaller towns or extend dates? Also, would Eurail benefit over Eurostar and flights for our case? Thank you so much.
Geoff

 

    Geoff,

    It’s my pleasure to try to help. My strong preference is to stay 3 nights in almost any city I visit, except for 1 or 2 nights in a few of the smaller towns. The main reason is that it gives you two full sightseeing days, which is enough to see all of the best and most important sights in each city. Paris and London are large enough that 4 nights is even better.

    Bruges is small enough that one night is okay, although two nights is better. And Amsterdam is compact enough that you can at least see the 3 or 4 most famous things in 2 nights (one full sightseeing day), but I’d recommend 3 nights there as well. Berlin is huge and it’s extremely cool and interesting, but if you don’t have too many things on your list for Berlin then 2 nights could work. I’d skip Dresden altogether. The historic center looks nice because it was rebuilt to look like it did before WWII, but I’d MUCH rather have a third day in Berlin.

    Three nights in Prague is perfect, and Munich in 3 is good as well. Switzerland is expensive, even compared to the other places on your list, but it’s got by far the best scenery. MY recommendation would be the three nights in Interlaken or perhaps 2 nights there and two nights in Lucerne. I’m not sure if you’ve seen it yet, but you may find my where to go in Switzerland article to be interesting. Bern is the best looking city and it’s interesting for a day or so, but it’s small and the scenery is much better. In other words, I’d probably recommend spending a few hours in Bern or maybe 1 night, but probably not 2.

    The Eurostar is the name of the train company that runs between London and Paris or Brussels. Eurail Passes are sold by certain companies and they allow you to ride most trains in Europe for free or only a small seat reservation fee of €5 or so. And Eurail Passes are kind of expensive compared to advanced train tickets, so they are mainly helpful to people on longer trips who want to make plans as they go. For a trip like yours where you have a pretty tight itinerary you can save much more money by buying individual train tickets at least a month or two in advance. As long as you buy early you will probably average €50 to €60 for your longer rides, which is much cheaper than the daily fare on a Eurail Pass that you might buy.

    For your itinerary the trains are the best way to go. In some cases a flight might be around the same price, or perhaps even slightly cheaper, but the train is a million times more comfortable and enjoyable, and for those cities on your list it should be faster as well. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Richie says:

Hi Roger, I am planning a 20-day itinerary for Western Europe in the beginning of June next year. I took your advice and the itinerary currently looks like the one below. 7 cities, 6 countries. I am thinking if it would be better to have an extra night in Munich instead of Prague. Let me know what you think?

Day 1: Arrive in London at 7:05 AM, sleep in London”
Day 2: London, sleep in London
Day 3: London, sleep in London
Day 4: to Paris, sleep in Paris
Day 5: Paris, sleep in Paris
Day 6: Paris, sleep in Paris
Day 7: to Amsterdam, sleep in Amsterdam
Day 8: Amsterdam, sleep in Armsterdam
Day 9: Amsterdam, sleep in Armsterdam
Day 10: to Berlin, sleep in Berlin
Day 11: Berlin, sleep in Berlin
Day 12: Berlin, sleep in Berlin
Day 13: to Prague, sleep in Prague
Day 14: Prague, sleep in Prague
Day 15: Prague, sleep in Prague
Day 16: to Vienna, sleep in Vienna
Day 17: Vienna, sleep in Vienna
Day 18: to Munich, sleep in Munich
Day 19: Munich, sleep in Munich
Day 20: fly home, leave Munich at 5:05 PM

Cheers,
Richie

 

    Richie,

    I think this itinerary looks just about perfect. My family is from Germany and I’ve spent a lot of time all over the country, but still I think Prague is quite a bit more interesting than Munich. And I think Berlin is also much more interesting than Munich, so I’d leave it just like this. Munich has an impressive Old Town area, but most of the city is quite modern. There’s the BMW attraction and of course Oktoberfest, plus many great beer gardens and beer halls, but aside from those things it’s mostly just an impressive place to hang out in or live.

    And Vienna has a lot going for it, but I’d do just two nights there as well if you don’t have more to spare. The famous buildings around the ring road are very impressive and so are the palaces and such. On the other hand, it’s really dead at night for the most part, so two days and nights should be enough to see the highlights. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Richie says:

Thanks for your comment Roger, much appreciated. Cheers – Richie.

 
noa says:

Roger hello,
Its Noa again, we have decided to travel 21-30 days.
during september-october, I would like to get your reccomendation for a trip in east/west europe( like you said east europe is less expencive, but is it relevante for 21-30 days?).
like I said before we prefer to visit more than 3 countries.
In west europe we want to visit italy, france, germany, netherlands(if its possible to visit all of them)
we have no preferance for east of europe.
Im sorry,I know its very general but we hope for your wise guidness.

 
Zoey says:

Hey,

I was thinking of traveling to Europe for the first time during the summer for a month. I’ll be in London for 10 days to visit my family and friends. Where would you recommend me to go for the other 20 days?

Thank you

 

    Zoey,

    If you have 20 days of a first visit to Europe after your time in London I would definitely go next to Paris for 3 or 4 days. You can take the Eurostar train so it’s the easiest place to go next. After that you could take a 3-hour train ride up to Amsterdam for 3 more days. That leaves you with about 13 days left.

    From Amsterdam I would fly to Italy for at least a week, if not the whole 13 days. You could fly into Rome and then go north to Florence and Venice, or fly into Venice and go south from there. If you did Italy in 7 days, which is about the fastest you’d want to go, you would even have time to fly to Madrid and then take a train to Barcelona after 3 days, or the other way around. Or again, you could stay in Italy the rest of the time. Those are my top suggestions for the best possible first visit. Let me know if you have any questions. -Roger

     
shoreh rostami says:

Hello Roger,

I’m traveling with my middle son to UK to pick up my eldest son the grandbaby for a European getaway. I have about 18 days total from December 18 to January 5 and would LOVE to see as much as possible!!! Aside from wanting to see it all 😉 AND keeping it cheap, we must make a stop in Germany (Cologne)for about 3-4 days to see close relatives.

Having to pay almost all the travel bills for the entire family, what is your recommendations? Is there a possibility to see UK, Paris, Amsterdam, Coliseum, Germany and back to UK in 18 days?

Your recommendations are so informative.
Thanks in advance.
Shoreh

 

    Shoreh,

    First off, you might be interested in my recent list of my Europe recommendations for December. If you have 14 days, not counting the days you’ll spend in Cologne, you’ll have time to visit 5 cities or so. If you tried to go faster than that you’d end up spending half your time on trains, and also it costs money each time you go to another city. I’d spend 3 or maybe 4 days in London, and then take the Eurostar train to Paris for 3 days. Then you can take a train to Amsterdam in a bit over 3 hours, or you could stop in Cologne on the way and then go to Amsterdam after that. If you wanted to visit Rome and perhaps also Florence and Venice, the best thing to do would be to fly from Amsterdam or Cologne, and then take the train while in Italy before flying back to London. You could see Rome in 3 days and then you’d still have time for Florence or Venice, or maybe both. That would be my best recommendation for seeing the most top cities that time of year. Let me know if you have any questions. -Roger

     
Janett says:

Hi! I want to take a week long vacation to Europe from NY, I want to visit London, Paris & Spain. Since its my first time traveling to Europe how can I plan my trip without putting a hole in my pocket lol. Thanks in advance

 

    Janett,

    If you only have 7 days for your Europe visit I would focus on London and Paris, and save Spain for a future trip. That will save you some money since the cost of going back and forth to Spain would be quite a bit. Seven days is pretty much perfect for London and Paris, as it allows you 3 nights in one and 4 nights in the other, and it also allows you enough time to do a longer day trip from one of them and still have 3 sightseeing days.

    The earlier you buy your Eurostar train ticket between London and Paris, the cheaper it will be (up to about 6 months in advance). Aside from that it will just be a matter of finding accommodations that offer everything you want for the lowest price. London is quite expensive for hotels and such, especially when you see how small the rooms tend to be. Paris is a bit cheaper and the Metro system is so good that you can stay a bit outside the center and still enjoy your visit. I’m happy to answer any other specific questions if you have them. -Roger

     
Ben says:

Hi Roger

My partner and I are planning a two week trip to Europe. I want to visit Italy for a week and then maybe go to France or Switzerland or even fly up to Amsterdam. Any suggestions? Thanks!

 

    Ben,

    For someone who wants to do the quickest visit to Italy that hits the main highlights you should plan on 3 nights in Rome, 2 (or 3) nights in Florence, and then 1 night in Venice, taking high-speed trains between them. You can take a train from Venice to Interlaken in Switzerland, and it’s one of the world’s great train journeys. I’d recommend 3 nights there, and if you want to see more of Switzerland you can do maybe 2 nights in Lucerne as well. From either one you can take a train to Paris in a reasonable amount of time (6 to 7 hours) and then spend 3 or 4 nights there. If you still have time then you could take a 3 hour 15 minute train from Paris to Amsterdam for 2 or 3 days. If you only have two weeks you won’t have time for ALL of that, so you’d either have to stay a couple days longer or cut something out. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Sue says:

Hi Roger,

So happy I stumbled on your site, thank you, it is really interesting and informative! I am an active 62 year old, and can finally permit myself to do a little travelling. I have only been to Rome, Naples, and the Amalfi coast, since I have family in those regions.
I would like to visit other European cities and plan to travel alone in Oct/Nov 2017 for about 15 days departing from Ottawa. I also speak fluent French, Italian, as well as some Spanish. Safety and budget are a concern. What would you recommend?
Thank you,
Sue

 

    Sue,

    I’m glad you found this site as well. For a 15-day trip I’d recommend you plan on visiting exactly 5 cities. Since you’ve been to Italy before I’d recommend France as your main target, especially since you speak French. Needless to say, you will want to fly into Paris and spend 3 or 4 days there. The weather on the south coast in October and November is still pretty good so you could take a train down to Nice for a few days to explore not only Nice but also Monaco and Cannes, both of which are only about 20 minutes away by train. On the way you could explore the Loire Valley or Avignon or Bordeaux or any number of other places in France. I haven’t spent much time outside of Paris, Nice, and a few other places since I was a kid so it’s not my specialty. Or you could do what most other people do and just visit Paris and then leave the country.

    From Paris it’s very easy to reach Amsterdam in a bit over 3 hours, or London in a bit over 2 hours on the Eurostar train. Both of those are top-tier destinations, but they are both a bit expensive as well.

    Another option would be to take a train from Paris to Barcelona (perhaps stopping elsewhere in France on the way) and then spend the rest of your time in Spain. Your Spanish will be very helpful because English isn’t as widely spoken in Spain as it is in most of the rest of Europe. Spain would also be a cheaper option than the others, and have the best weather that time of year as well. I’d recommend Barcelona for 3 nights and Madrid for 3 nights at a minimum. You could also go to Valencia for 2 or 3 nights. Granada and Seville are the main attractions in the south of Spain for cultural tourists, and Toledo is a very worthwhile stop that can be done as a day-trip from Madrid. There are high-speed trains connecting all of these cities, including Paris to Barcelona, and the tickets are fairly cheap if you buy them at least a few weeks in advance, or maybe longer. Spain is great value, and all of the places I’ve mentioned are very safe. Pick-pocketing is far more common in Europe (especially in the south) than it is in the US or Canada, but nearly all other types of petty crimes and violent crimes are less common. As long as you are aware of the pick-pocketing issue, it’s easy to keep your things safe.

    Those are my best recommendations based on what you’ve said. Let me know if you have any questions. -Roger

     
Shweta says:

Hi Roger , I am from India. Love ur website. A lot of effort has been put to answer queries which are so common and yet internet has such vague answers to them. Thanks for this website.
Now my query is. In may 2018 me ,my husband and my 4yr old twins then wish to make a week long trip to any one destination in Europe. We are tight on budget ,goals of the trip are to have a relaxed time with family ,kids should have a great time and we should be able to save on budget by using public transport. Could you suggest which place is good with 4yr old twins.

 

    Shweta,

    Thank you for the kind words. It sounds like this will be your first trip to Europe, and if that’s the case you might have a quick look at my advice about choosing a great Europe city rather than a cheap one. There are some excellent cities that are cheaper than others, but my main point is that it’s really not worth going to one of the cheapest cities instead of one that interests you far more.

    With that in mind, you can cut costs in most cities by renting an apartment instead of a hotel, which also allows you to do some of your own cooking instead of expensive restaurant meals every day. On the other hand, 7 days is quite a long time to stay in most cities, and you might even consider going to another city as well.

    My best suggestion would be Paris because it’s really amazing to see and experience, and if you find an affordable apartment it can be a budget-friendly place. The Metro system there is so good that you can stay a bit outside the city center and still get around quickly and easily.

    If you are looking for something cheaper than that but still very worthwhile I would suggest Budapest or Prague. Lisbon is another great choice, as it’s a lovely city that is cheaper than most similar cities. Let me know if you had something different in mind and I’ll be happy to try to help more. -Roger

     
Rahul Sharma says:

Hi Roger,
Thank for this great article.
My wife and I are planning to travel to Europe from 16th Dec to 28th Dec this year for our honeymoon. We wish to visit the following cities but are not sure if it will be a bit much.
1. Munich – 2 days
2. Innsbruck – 1 day
3. Vienna – 1 day (can be removed)
4. Prague – 2 days
5. Český Krumlov – 1 day
6. Budapest-2/3 days

Could you help us with the following:
–Big question: Is December good month to travel to these places?
–If we have to miss one or two places, can you suggest the ones where we don’t waste too much time in travel?
— Which countries would be ideal for the dates that we plan to visit in the month of December?
–Are there any other places that are ideal for a visit during our travel dates and must be included in the itinerary?
Thank you in advance!
Rahul

 

    Rahul,

    December isn’t a great month for a trip like this because the days are short and it will obviously be quite cold. Still, it’s much better than staying home and you’ll have the nice Christmas decorations to enjoy.

    I’d skip Innsbruck for sure. It’s mainly a ski town without much to see. Vienna might also be cut if you aren’t in the mood. You can’t see much of anything in one day in a large city like that. I’d probably also cut Cesky Krumlov and spend an extra day in Prague. I recommend 3 nights in almost any city you visit, so it’s better to visit 3 cities for 3 days each rather than 6 cities for a day or two each.

    Here are my recommended best destinations in Europe in December. I’m happy to help if you have other questions. -Roger

     
Rahul Sharma says:

Thanks for the quick response 🙂

I totally agree with you. Our other options are:

–Arrive in Paris around 4pm on 17th dec.
–17th, 18th, 19th, 20th in Paris.
–Early morning Flight to Prague on 21st.
–21st, 22nd, 23rd in Prague
–24th, 25th, 26th, 27th in Budapest
–28th Fly back to home.
———————————————–

Day 1: Arrive in Barcelona
Days 2, 3, 4, & 5: Barcelona plus day trips
Days 6,7,8: Valencia or Seville
Days 9,10,11,12: Madrid
——————————————————————

Day 1: Arrive in Rome
Day 2,3,4,: Rome
Day 4: Rome, take a train to Florence in the evening
Days 5, & 6, 7: Florence and Tuscany
Day 8, 9, 10: Rome
Day 11 and 12: Venice
Day 13: Fly home
——————————————
Day 1: Arrive in Budapest
Day 2, 3, 4: Budapest
Day 5: Travel from Budapest to Vienna.
Day 5,6,7: Vienna
Day 8: Travel from Vienna to Prague
Day 9,10,11, 12: Prague
Day 13: Fly back home

Please advise if the above plans are better than my previous planned itinerary? This will be our first trip to Europe. I am very confused right now and need some help. Please help 🙂

 
Leng says:

Hello Roger,
I have been looking around for itinerary suggestions for Europe until I found your articles, been reading it and all the comments, I have never seen such detailed answer, you have been so helpful. So I told myself why not ask Roger, so here is my question 🙂 My husband and I will be visiting my daughter in Germany during her Winter break February 2017, she goes to school in Bieberach so we’ll most likely used the Stuttgart airport,nearest to her. We would like to visit Germany,London,Paris, and Switzerland during the stay. We will be there for 2 weeks. Can you give me some suggestions for a cost effective itinerary for this trip? Do you think 4 countries in 2 weeks is too much? I really appreciate your help. Thank you.
Leng

 

    Leng,

    I’m happy to help. Sorry for the delay in responding, but I’m in Beijing on a China trip right now.

    I think it’s more helpful to think in terms of cities rather than countries. I’d recommend 3 or 4 days in London and 3 or 4 days in Paris. That gives you about 7 remaining days. The shortest visit to Switzerland that I’d recommend is 3 days, and you might find my article about where to go in Switzerland to be helpful with that. If you do those three things that would only leave you 3 or 4 days for Germany itself. You might also be interested in my article on where to go in Germany.

    Once you choose the destinations you want to visit, it should be fairly easy to figure out the order to see them in and how to get there. I’m happy to help with that if you need it. -Roger

     
Sally says:

Hi Roger,

I would really appreciate if you could share your expertise in getting most of our Europe trip. London is our fly in/fly out in July next year and we are planning to spend our last week in London/Ireland. We have 2 weeks to explore France, Germany & Switzerland and possibly Italy and then back to London. Total of 3 weeks excluding fly time. Hope to hear from you soon! By the way, I have a 10 y.o. so I am sure I would have to make that into consideration as far as places to go.

Thanks,
Sally

 

    Sally,

    So you’ve got about 14 days to plan and you want to visit France, Germany, Switzerland, and possibly Italy. In 14 days I would recommend visiting exactly 5 cities, and if you haven’t been there before I’d also say that Paris should be one of those cities for 3 or 4 nights.

    That gives you 10 or 11 days for 4 more cities. If you want to include Italy I would recommend at least 7 days for that. The shortest trip I recommend is 1 night in Venice, 3 nights in Florence, and 3 nights in Rome. You could go to Paris and then take a train to Switzerland for 3 or 4 nights and then another train to Venice for a week in Italy.

    If you wanted to save Italy for another trip and include Germany for a week in its place, you could go from Switzerland to Munich and then to Berlin, probably flying out of Berlin back to London. There are some other interesting options that you could consider in my article about where to go in Germany. Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a place you can enjoy on a visit of about 24 hours.

    Or you could go from Paris down to Nice for a few days on your way to Italy. Hopefully at least one of these options sounds good to you. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Bharat says:

Hi Roger,

i have been trying make an itinerary for Europe since a long time,i’ve decided on dates from the 14th of Nov,till the 29th of Nov,29th ill be catching a flight back home so it leaves me with 15 days of sightseeing..i’ve zeroed in on Rome,Venice,Zurich,Interlaken,Paris and Amsterdam as the cities to visit..please share your thoughts if you think is it feasible enough too go 6 cities within a span of 15 days..the breakdown of the itinerary is as below:

1.Rome – 2 days
2.Venice – 2 days
3.Zurich – 2 days
4.Interlaken – 2 days
5.Paris – 3 days
6.Amsterdam – 3 days

 

    Bharat,

    The problem with staying in a city for only two nights is that you really only get one sightseeing day that way, and you end up spending half your days in transit. Venice is small enough to see in one or two days, but I’d stay 3 nights in the others. I would also recommend eliminating Zurich from the trip because it’s extremely expensive and there is not much to see. The real magic in Switzerland is the scenery, and Interlaken is the ideal base for that. If you keep Venice at a day or two and do 3 days in the others, this trip will work very well. Have a wonderful time. -Roger

     
Garima says:

Hi Rodge,

My friend and I would like to do 8-10 day trip to Europe starting from the 23rd of December till NYE (exact dates depend on the ticket prices). We’ll be coming from Singapore. We would ideally like to go to Amsterdam and then go elsewhere to a city which has a different vibe, perhaps, Berlin (Amsterdam is not set in stone either). We would like the cities to have a good night life. Any recommendations?

Thanks,
Garima

 

    Garima,

    Amsterdam and Berlin both have excellent nightlife, and they are both very different from each other so they should be great choices. Amsterdam actually celebrates their big Christmas holiday early in December, so things won’t be shut down on 25 December like they will be in most other European places.

    If you go to Berlin then you might also consider going on to Prague, which also has great nightlife and a lot to see. It will be chilly in Prague in late December, but still easy to get around. Paris is another great choice, although the nightlife can be harder to find if you don’t speak French (which I don’t). Still, it’s an amazing city in so many ways and only 3.5 hours from Amsterdam by high speed train. And London is only 2 hours from Paris on the Eurostar train, so you could do Amsterdam, Paris, and then London instead of Berlin and Prague. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Miza Alister says:

Hai Roger, regard from Malaysia.

Ive been to europe several times including London,paris,amsterdam,swirtzeland,Brussel,Belgium,itali(Rome,florence,venice,lake como,milan and several other places but using agent.
This time me and myhusband planning on doing it just two of us on january 2018 for two weeks time and can u suggest places that maybe we can go and it will be start and end from London. I want to include barcelona,paris,london im there too.
Thank ypu in advance.

 

    Miza,

    If you’ve got two weeks I’d recommend 4 or 5 total destinations for about 3 days each. If you are doing London and Paris for sure (fine choices of course) and you want to include Barcelona, then you don’t have too many more places to add. The most obvious one would be Madrid because it’s a wonderful city and it’s very different from Barcelona. So you could fly into London and then take the Eurostar to Paris, and then take a train to Barcelona (or fly if you prefer) and then the high speed train to Madrid.

    If you want to add another city you could include Valencia, which is also different from the others, or even a day trip from Madrid or stay in Toledo. Then fly back to Madrid from London. This would work pretty well in January, which is otherwise a tricky month in Europe because most cities are cold and the northern cities have very short days. You can see my other recommendations in my recent article about the best Europe destinations in January. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Kristen says:

we are planning on 2 weeks mid September. should we do a tour or try to plan it on our own? we want to hit the highlights but there are some places off the beaten path we would like to go too (Liverpool), Germany (we have family there). Just want the most economical and easiest way to go.

 

    Kristen,

    I’d recommend planning it yourself to save money AND for added flexibility. Europe is very easy to do for us English speakers, and group tours tend to go frustratingly slow.

    One key to saving money is to buy your train tickets 2 to 3 months in advance if you can. Especially in Britain, train tickets are cheap if you buy early and insanely expensive if you buy on travel day. Liverpool is a really nice city so I think that’s a good choice. Let me know if you need any other advice as you are planning. -Roger

     
Veronica says:

Good Afternoon Roger,

My cousins and I will be traveling to Europe- I bought the plane ticket and we will be landing in Inverness, Scotland at 12:45pm on November 21st and flying back from Inverness to Armsterdam (where there is an 18 hour layover) before heading to LAX.

My question for you is- what do recommend that we visit and for how long in order to enjoy the trip (we do not mind a fast pace but will like to take in and enjoy each location. The only thing that is a must – Harry Potter London Tour. Looking forward to your response and insight.

All the Best,
Veronica

 

    Veronica,

    I’d be able to help more if I knew how long you were staying in total. Inverness is a small town and an unusual place to start a Europe trip, but it’s also a wonderful place and it’s the gateway to the Scottish Highlands. The most popular thing to do there is a bus tour into the Highlands and the Isle of Skye in particular. Loch Ness is also near Inverness and they have a variety of lake cruises that spend a lot of time discussing the Loch Ness Monster. Don’t waste your time on any of them, as Loch Ness isn’t particularly scenic and the Monster stuff is just silly.

    From Inverness I’d take a train to Edinburgh and spend 2 or 3 days there, and then a train down to London. If you book those at least a month or two in advance those train rides will be fairly cheap, while if you book on travel day they will be extremely expensive. I don’t know how much more time you have. From London if you have time probably the best thing to do is take the Eurostar 2 hours to Paris. Let me know more about what you have in mind and I can try to help more. -Roger

     
Shamelle says:

Hi! What about an itinerary when I want to visit are spain, italy, france and netherlands in 7 days? thank you! Im planning to visit on march 2018

 

    Shamelle,

    My strong recommendation is to spend 3 nights in just about any city that you visit. It takes most of a day to check out of a hotel and then take a train or flight to another city and check into a hotel there. So if you spend only two night in a city it’s really only one sightseeing day and you spend half your holiday in transit.

    In other words, if you have 7 days you should choose 2 or perhaps 3 cities (rather than countries) to visit. Once you do that the itinerary will be much easier to sort out. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Miza Alister says:

Hai Roger,
Thanks for the reply.
We already book our tickets and its a dream come true for us.
I do have in mind that we want to visit as much as we can and for some places maybe its gonna be a day visit and continue journey to some other places.
Thank you so much for your help.
Btw,our trip gonna be start and end at paris..
For the time being we are planning of gamble to go anywhere that popped up in mind based on the time and route that easy.
Your articles and comments here is much appreciated and it helps a lot.especially when im the one need to plan everything.
Thanks again Roger.

 
Pradeep says:

Hi Roger,

We’ll be traveling to Salzburg from Cesky Krumlov on 22nd of December. Currently, there are no bus routes available due to change in time-table for winters. I would like to know if there are direct buses from CK to Salzburg in winters? If yes, when can we book them? Plus, is it possible to catch an early morning bus from CK around 8.30am to reach Salzburg around 11.00 am.

My complete itinerary is:

17-18-19-20 DEC–> Prague

21 DEC–> CK

22-23 DEC–> Salzburg

24-25 DEC–> Vienna

26-27-28-29 DEC–> Budapest

Suggestions and feedback will be a great help!

 

    Pradeep,

    Yes, it seems that Bean Shuttle closes down from November through March, which is a shame because that is who I used. But they say that their sister company goes all winter, and I see that they have 2 buses a day on 22-December. Check the booking page on CZShuttle.cz and you should be okay.

    You can also go by train any day of the year. It takes a bit under 5 hours and the Cesky Krumlov train station is a bit out of town, but at least that is a good back-up option.

    I think your itinerary looks good. Vienna should be a fun place to spend Christmas, although some of the sights are probably going to be closed on 25-December. If that is a problem you might stay an extra day and spend only 3 nights in Budapest. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Dan says:

Hi Roger
We are currently planning our Europe trip for a month Sept/Oct 2018. I was lucky to receive a bonus, so we are doing a 2 week river cruise Budapest – Amsterdam.
I have family in UK, but don’t want to go that far West this trip, so we expect that we want a week or so before Budapest and a few days after Amsterdam before we fly back to Australia.
I was excited by Croatia for GoT scenes, and beaches…but you said it has become more expensive than Greek Islands, so we are after some inspiration please?
Cheers
Dan

 

    Dan,

    That sounds like an amazing trip. If I were you I’d still focus on Croatia, especially if it’s less travel time. At the moment you can get some very good deals on the Greek Islands, but honestly there really isn’t that much to see on most of them. Nearly all of those who go to Greek Islands are Europeans looking for a place to sit in the sun during the day and enjoy food and drinks at night.

    Croatia gets a lot of those kinds of visitors as well, although mostly in July and August. Really it’s just Dubrovnik and specifically inside the city walls that are worth avoiding based on price. It’s a really lovely and interesting city that is worth a visit, but a hotel within the city walls is now quite expensive, and every restaurant in the same area is not only expensive but primarily aimed at tourists rather than locals. I’m a big fan of the city of Split, which actually resembles Dubrovnik with its amazing all-white city center, but prices are half of Dubrovnik and it’s a living city rather than just a tourist destination. There are islands near Split that you can take ferries to as well, and beach areas up and down the coast. By the way, being from Australia it’s easy to assume that most coastlines have fluffy white sand there waiting for you, but in most of Europe the coasts are rocky or mountainous and many of the actual beaches are rocky rather than sandy. So if you want to spend time on a nice, sandy beach, you need to research to be sure.

    Speaking of Croatia, I find Zagreb to be a bit dull compared to the coastal cities, but the Plitvice Falls National Park is one of Europe’s great outdoor sights. The weather should be very nice in Croatia that time of year as well. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Louise says:

Hi Roger love this site, we are traveling from Australia to the med in August, we have not booked flights yet but have booked a 7 day cruise in a small luxury boat around croatia starting in split and finishing in dubrovnik . looking at the lakes and spending a few days each side of split and Dubrovnik, so that would take about 2 weeks. Our problem is we now only have 2 weeks left( 4 week vacation only).
We would love to see Switzerland ,Santorini, nice, amalfi or spain not sure which we could do so we don’t travel to much. we havent booked flights yet so could come into any country and leave from any where.
We love beautiful scenery eating and drinking and walking around quaint towns we do love swimming to.Not bothered about sandy beaches lots of them in Australia. We have been last year to Venice, Florence and Italy for a few days and loved it, also we went on a cruise from rome to Barcelona . So that is our situation could you suggest a Itinerary with all of this in mind. sorry it a bit long.

 

    Louise,

    This is an interesting situation. One of the major factors to consider is that nearly every town and beach on the Mediterranean is packed in August, and prices are at their peak as well. As you might know, most of the office workers in Europe take all of August off (some July instead), and those who can afford it all flock to the closest beaches. That includes Nice, Amalfi, and Santorini, although Santorini will still be cheaper in general. Since you understandably don’t care much about sandy beaches (and nearly all of Europe’s beaches are shite compared to those in Oz), you might instead focus on cities. On your cruise and in Croatia you’ll have plenty of sunbathing time and such if you want it.

    Believe it or not, Paris is half empty in August due to this same phenomenon. Hotel prices are reasonable and the crowds are minimal, so you might think about that for 3 or 4 days. You could also spend 4 or 5 days in Switzerland, which is also highly recommended (if a bit pricey). Croatia will be quite warm in August, and Spain is usually worse, so you might appreciate cooling off a bit in Paris, Switzerland, and maybe Salzburg or Munich or Budapest or Prague? My recommendation is to stay 3 nights in just about any city that you visit, so if you have two weeks to work with that would be 4 or 5 cities at most. Switzerland is so expensive that many people spend 2 days in Interlaken and 2 days in Lucerne, and you can see a lot in that amount of time there.

    I hope this helps at least a bit. I’m happy to help more with suggestions once you figure out more about the sort of places you want to visit. -Roger

     
Craig says:

Hi Roger, thanks for a most valuable site, it is truly appreciated!
I’m wanting to travel to Europe in March 2018 for about 12-13 days. This will be my first trip to Europe, and I’d love to see Paris and Amsterdam for at least 2-3 nights each. I’d also like to see another city in another country. Brussels doesn’t really appeal to me too much. Could you recommend another city to spend the remainder of the time in? I was thinking Munich in Germany, but perhaps this is too far away and should be kept for a future trip? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. Thank you!

 

    Craig,

    I’m glad you like the website. Since this is your first trip to Europe I would highly recommend spending 3 nights in Paris, and 4 nights would even be better if you can do it. Amsterdam is much more compact, although there are many things to see, so 2 days could work but 3 is much better. A high-speed train connects those cities in a bit over 3 hours, and the fare is much cheaper if you buy well in advance.

    In my opinion, Brussels is a bit of a dud for tourists, so I agree with you there. One very popular thing to do is to take a train from Paris to Brussels and then spend a few hours there seeing the wonderful Old Town area around the main square, which is called Grand Place. Then hop on a train to Bruges, which is an hour away, and spend 2 nights there. Bruges is a much nicer tourist city than Brussels, and it’s a bit cheaper as well. The downside to consider is that Bruges and Amsterdam look quite a bit alike because they were both rich trading cities in the 1500s and 1600s when most of them were built. I still recommend Bruges, but it’s just a bit less special if you are visiting Amsterdam on the same trip.

    Another popular option is to stop in Cologne, which is right on the way between Paris and Amsterdam. The Gothic cathedral there is the main draw, and the historic town area around it is also pretty nice. You can see those in a day or so if that appeals to you.

    From Amsterdam you can take a train to Berlin in around 6 hours. Berlin is easier to reach from Paris or Amsterdam than Munich is, and I think it’s a much more interesting city as well. Yet another option is to visit Switzerland, which is only about 5 hours from Paris by train. Here is a little guide I wrote about where to go in Switzerland on a short visit. I hope this gives you some ideas. I’m happy to answer other questions if you have them. -Roger

     
Chris says:

I would like to travel from Singapore to Europe from 10th Dec to 31 Dec 17, about 22 days, to Italy, Switzerland, another other Europe countries. As this is my first time to travel to Europe, would appreciate if you could recommend. Thanks a lot!

 

    Chris,

    I’m a big fan of Singapore, but let’s talk about Europe. Your plan sounds like a good one. I’d say your best other country to add to this would be France, and specifically Paris. December isn’t an easy or ideal time to visit the countryside or wine regions or that sort of thing, but it will be wonderful in Paris. I’ll give you two main options.

    It would be best if you could fly into one city and out of another. If that is possible you could fly from Singapore to London and spend 3 or 4 days there. Then take the Eurostar train to Paris and spend 3 or 4 days there. Then take the train from Paris to Interlaken and then another train to Lucerne. If you can spend 4 or 5 days in Switzerland it will be ideal. I discuss the best options in my article about where to go in Switzerland. Switzerland is very expensive, however, so the time you spend there the more expensive your whole trip will be.

    From Lucerne you can take a train through the Alps to Venice, with a change in Milan. It takes 6 hours 10 minutes and the journey through the Alps is one of the most beautiful rides you’ll ever take. Spend 1 or 2 days in Venice and then take a train to Florence for 2 or 3 days, and then a train to Rome for 3 days. I have more specific suggestions in my article on where to go in France and Italy. Then fly home from Rome.

    If you want to leave out London you could fly into Paris and spend a bit more time in some of the cities. It will be chilly no matter where you go in Europe that time of year, so there isn’t much point in going to a beach city such as Nice, because it’s very quiet in the cold months. Let me know if you have any other questions and I’ll be happy to help more. -Roger

     
A+J says:

Hello from New Zealand Roger,

Thank you for a great article and your detailed response to queries.
My friend and I are planning a 3 wk trip to Europe late Jan – early Feb and we were wondering if you could help us in planning our itinerary.
The main countries and cities we would like to visit are 3 nights in France (Paris), 1 week in Italy (Milan, Venice, Florence, Pisa, Rome and possibly Pompeii). We would also like to visit 1 or 2 other countries (Switzerland or Belgium and the Netherlands). What would be your recommendation considering cost, travel time between countries and the length of stay we have?

We also have a friend in Munich who is only free towards the end of our stay, so our last stop must be in Munich which makes planning our route slightly difficult. Would it be best to start near France and make our way down to Italy and back up to Munich or go from Rome to Paris then Munich?
What would be the best way to go about planning this?

Thank you!
A+J

 

    A+J,

    I’ll be happy to try to help. Three nights in Paris is ideal for a trip like this. If you want to dedicate one week to Italy, which I also think is about right, I’d recommend 1 night in Venice, 3 nights in Florence (with Pisa as a half-day trip), and 3 nights in Rome. Milan isn’t nearly as interesting as the others so I’d save it for a future trip. Venice is small enough for a great stay of about 24 hours, and it’s so expensive and crowded that you may not want to stay much longer. I’d probably save Pompeii for a future trip as well. It would take a whole day to get there and back with a few-hour visit from Rome, and Rome is already so jammed with excellent sights that it’s not worth all that time on the train.

    Switzerland has Europe’s most amazing scenery, but it’s also very expensive, even compared to its neighbors. Here are my recommendations for a quick trip to Switzerland. I love Amsterdam (and lived there for a while) and 3 days there is great on a quick trip. In my opinion, Bruges is the most interesting tourist city in Belgium, but it looks a lot like Amsterdam except more mellow. And that time of year will be very quiet for tourism, so I’d probably skip it and just do Amsterdam.

    One way to do this would be to start in Rome and then go to Florence and Venice and then to Switzerland for 3 or 4 days. Then take a train to Paris and then a train to Amsterdam. From there you can take a train to Munich in about 7 hours. If you buy all of those train tickets at least a month in advance, they won’t be too expensive. And if you did this route you might still have time for another short stop or two along the way. That is my best recommendation based on what you’ve written. If you want to do changes I’ll be happy to add more advice later. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Maulik says:

Hi what a wonderful article.
We are 2 couples with 4 kids and plan to spend 3 weeks in France Belgium and Netherlands. We plan to land in Amsterdam and have a return flight from Paris. The ideal plan is to experience cities, beaches, country side and authentic alps experience.
I plan to stay at Amsterdam (3), Paris (4), and Cannes (3).

Which other places would u suggest and what should be the order assuming we start from Amsterdam and finish at Paris. I was thinking giethoorn, bruges, Colmar, and other places in France. Pls suggest.

 

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