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



145 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.

 
Maulik says:

Hi Roger, my updated itinearry is as under. Total nights – 20

Land in Amsterdam (3 nights)

Bruges (2) – train to Paris and onwards to Ambois – Loire valley (2), NIce (3), annecy (2), colmar (3), Paris (4)

Questions

1. Is this doable – logistically and sequentially

2. I still have a spare night – should i increase one night in Bruges ? OR stay anywhere in netherlands – like Delftt/ Giethoorn etc or Increase Riveiera – Nice stay to 4 nights

3. Is it possioble to rent a car from Amsterdam and drive down to Bruges / Paris & drop the car there (without getting charged a bomb)

 

    Maulik,

    Your plan looks very good. Yes, it’s doable and it looks logical to me, or at least one of the ways of doing it. I don’t think I would stay longer in Bruges. It’s very nice, but it looks a lot like Amsterdam and I think you’ll have more thrills in France with that extra day. And I wouldn’t stop elsewhere in the Netherlands. Delft is sort of interesting if you like the famous china they make there, but again, I think France has more variety and thrills for you. It’ll be pretty quiet in Nice if you are going in the colder months, but it’s still quite nice and Monaco and Cannes are also worth half a day each, so another day there could be good.

    I’m not sure about the rates for a one-way rental from Amsterdam to Paris. Bruges is actually a small enough town that you could probably find a hotel with parking not far from the center, so if you can get a good rate it might be fun. Personally, I prefer the train because the views are usually better and it’s almost stress free, especially compared to driving in a foreign country. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Maulik says:

Thank you so much Roger for your views.

Am travelling with family – 4 adults & 4 kids (aged 2-12). Any other location in France or Netherlands, besides the above or in change of the above, that you would suggest i cover ?

 
Ramos says:

Hi Roger,Ramos from Delhi,India. Thanks for your detailed answers to queries. I and my wife both 53 yrs would like to explore Europe in April or May. Pl suggest the best month to visit. We have 21 days to spend including to and fro from Delhi.Since this is our first visit and as per your advice I would like to spend three days at each city so I would be grateful if you could spare some time and suggest me an itinerary.

 

    Ramos,

    Overall I’d say May will have nicer weather in just about all of Europe, but in the southern countries it will be nice in April as well, and also cheaper and less crowded. As for where to go, it’s a personal choice and I wrote the article above to give people ideas of how to start planning. Since this is your first trip I would recommend for sure Paris and London, which is about a week. You should also think about a week in Italy, with 3 nights in Rome, 3 nights in Florence, and 1 night in Venice.

    For ideas for the third week I would suggest Amsterdam is probably the most interesting remaining city, and it’s nothing like the others I’ve discussed. It’s easy to reach Berlin or Munich from Amsterdam, so those could also work. If the UK interests you then you might also add Edinburgh after London, as you can get to Edinburgh cheaply and pretty quickly by train. That should give you some ideas for my top picks. If Spain interests you then Barcelona and Madrid are both fantastic, and very different from each other. Once you narrow down your choices I can help you put them in order for the best trip. -Roger

     
Vijaya says:

Hi Roger,
We are planning a 15 days trip to Europe in April 2018 with a 2 year old. We are pretty sold on Amsterdam, Rome & Venice. We have family in Frankfurt so may explore Germany for a few days. Would like your opinion on the itinerary below. The key thing for us is to stay in one location for atleast 4 nights (except Venice) and travel as much possible by train (less than 3 hrs or overnight). We are still flexible with the places we would like to visit.

1. Amsterdam – 5 nights(includes day trip to Keukenhof and Zaanse Schans)
2. Germany – 4 nights ( Not sure where. More interested in countryside and a convenient stop between Amsterdam & Venice).Family lives in Frankfurt.
3. Venice – 1 night
4. Rome – 4 nights.

Thank you.

 

    Vijaya,

    I think your plan looks quite good. As for Germany, you have quite a few good options. Have a look at my article on where to go in Germany.

    Cologne is one to consider because it’s right on the way from Amsterdam. You can see the cathedral and town center in about a day, and both are just steps from the train station. You might also consider Rothenburg ob der Tauber and/or Fussen, which are also fairly close to Frankfurt. After that I think it would be best to fly to Italy. The trains from Germany to Italy would take a long time and cost more than flying. They do go through the Alps and are extremely scenic, but if you would be doing it overnight you’d lose that benefit.

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

     
Ramos says:

Thanks a lot Roger for sparing time and providing your valuable suggestions. I would try to do the trip in Apr-May. As per suggestions I would like to do London-3 days,Paris-3 days,Rome-3 days,Venice-2 days,Prague-3 days,Berlin-3 days,Amsterdam-3 days,Paris-3 days,Madrid/Barcelona whatever you suggest-3 days and Interlaken-3 days.This makes almost 30 days which I can afford to get leave. NOw my request is to help me in putting them in order i.e.from Delhi where should I first land and then how to go on to other places in chronological order. Also please suggest which mode of travel will be economical and how to book tickets for that mode and from which city I should depart to Delhi. I am troubling you a lot but i am sure you will guide me properly so that I can do my bookings now itself and save money.

 
Jordan says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks for the great site and advice. It’s been very helpful!

My fiancé and I are planning our honeymoon for September 2018. Our trip will be about 12-14 days. We are considering 5 cities and were hoping you might provide some advice on which we should definitely hit, which we can save for another trip, and in what order we should tackle them.

We’re considering: London, Paris, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, and Bruges/Brussels. For some reason, she’s a little less excited about London than I am. So maybe you can help on that front too ;).

(Full disclosure: I have spent time in Italy, and she has spent time in Germany.)

Thanks for any advice you might have!
Jordan

 

    Jordan,

    Happy to hear this helps. As you might have seen up top, my normal advice is to plan for 3 nights in each city you visit. In 12 to 14 days you should be able to do 4 cities well or 5 if you rush a bit. Edinburgh is compact enough to enjoy in two days, so that might help. Bruges and Brussels are an interesting pair. In my opinion, Brussels isn’t a great tourist city except for the historic core around the main square (Grand Place), as most of the city is geared for business travelers and bureaucrats. So I often recommend that people take an early train from Paris or Amsterdam (depending on which direction you are going) and spend maybe 4 hours in Brussels including lunch. That is enough time to enjoy the best parts, and then hop back on the train for another hour to Bruges and stay there for 2 or maybe 3 nights.

    Another thing to note about Bruges is that it looks a lot like Amsterdam, as they were both rich cities that were mostly built in the same era. Bruges is much smaller and less busy and there are many subtle differences. I like the place, but it does feel like a calmer and smaller Amsterdam.

    I have an article I wrote a few years ago that describes what I consider to be Europe’s 5 “great” cities for first-time visitors, and to focus on those before getting too fancy with more remote or cheaper cities. That list includes London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, and Venice. I’ve been to pretty much every tourist city in Europe, and I still highly recommend that London and Paris are both must-visit cities. Edinburgh is quite nice and it’s so much smaller that it has a different feeling to London, although of course there are some similarities.

    You could visit them in quite a few different ways, but I think the best way with no backtracking is to fly into London and then take the train up to Edinburgh (If you book a couple months out this high-speed train can be quite cheap). Then fly to Amsterdam and then take the train south into Belgium and then on to Paris for your flight home. Or you could fly from Edinburgh to Paris and then take the trains up through Belgium to Amsterdam and fly home from there. If you have to fly in and out of the same city you could do the first version and then take the Eurostar train from Paris to London and then head to Heathrow from there. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Charlotte Smith says:

Roger, we are planning a trip in Sept 2018 not sure of where to go. would love to see Munich, Salzburg, visit Italy and maybe the alps. We are in the early stages of planning and this will be our first trip. I would love to see beautiful places. Maybe do a bit of hiking and try amazing food. we are going for 16 days. Ay suggestions?
Thanks,
Charlotte

 

    Charlotte,

    Since you have 16 days you could do everything on your list if you don’t mind moving pretty quickly. You could do 3 nights in Munich and then take the short train ride to Salzburg for two nights. Salzburg is lovely, but it’s small enough to enjoy in two days, especially since you can be there by 11am after leaving Munich in the morning.

    Salzburg is at the edge of the Alps and it’s a really gorgeous area, but the most dramatic Alpine views are in Switzerland. If you wanted to you could take a 7.5-hour train ride from Salzburg to Interlaken and spend two or three days there. You can read more about it in my main article on where to go in Switzerland. From there you can take a train down to Venice to start a little tour of Italy. Or if you didn’t want to do that long train ride you could just explore the Salzburg area more and then take a train directly to Venice. The trains between Salzburg and Interlaken or Venice all feature amazing scenery almost the whole way. In other words, even though some of the train rides are a bit long, they will be a highlight by themselves.

    As for Italy I would recommend starting in Venice for one or two nights. Venice is small enough to enjoy in about 24 hours, and it’s also quite crowded and expensive so it can get old pretty quickly. That said, it’s a stunning city that I would not skip. After a night or two in Venice you can take a fast train down to Florence for 3 nights, which might include a half-day trip to Pisa if that interests you. Florence is the capital of the Tuscany region, and it’s one of Europe’s best food cities. Then take a fast train down to Rome for your last 3 nights. Rome is packed with great sights, but it’s also crowded and a bit chaotic so I think staying for 3 nights is enough.

    You will have the best hiking opportunities in Salzburg and Switzerland if you decide to include it. I think this kind of trip will work very well for you. Let me know if you have any questions. -Roger

     
Esther says:

Hi Roger,

Your site is such a good read and so helpful! I’m glad I stumbled upon this as I’m planning to travel with my husband sometime in Apr/May 2018. He has been to London and Switzerland before but it will be my first time in any parts of Europe. Decided not to include London as we may return to do a trip to England on its own, unless we have spare days to spend in this trip. We have about 10 days. Our plan is to fly in to Rome and fly out from Paris (depending on the flight ticket prices and availability). At the moment, we have shortlisted the places we’d want to visit – Rome (3 days), Venice (1 day) and Paris (3 days). Your suggestion for the remaining days? Appreciate your advice on the order of this itinerary and how we can travel between cities (train/flight)? Also would it be worth it to get a rail pass?

Thanks for your help!

Regards,
Esther.

 

    Esther,

    It’s nice to hear great comments like this. Your plan sounds great and I agree that visiting London on another trip would be ideal.

    Italy has what we in the tourism community call the “Big 3”, which are Rome, Florence, and Venice. There are some other ways you might be able to spend those extra days in France or elsewhere in Italy, but by far the easiest and I believe the most rewarding option would be to spend those 3 days in Florence. It’s the capital of Tuscany and also one of the most famous art cities in the world. The whole city is fairly compact and it feels like an outdoor museum, even more so than Rome does. Better still, Florence is only about 90 minutes by train from Rome and another two hours to Venice, so it’s nicely in between.

    Florence has plenty to keep you busy for those three days, but it’s also a good launching point of a half-day trip to Pisa if that interests you. Pisa is kind of a dud aside from the Leaning Tower and cathedral next to it, but it’s also only an hour from Florence on a cheap commuter train, and you can be back in Florence in 5 or 6 hours if you like.

    Your best bet is to fly into Rome and then take the high-speed trains to Florence and then to Venice. They are quite cheap in general, and even cheaper if you buy them at least a month or more in advance. Then fly from Venice (or nearby Treviso) to Paris, as the train option is both slow and expensive. Buy that plane ticket as far in advance as possible for the lowest fares and best choices of departure times. This will be the classic short visit to both Italy and France, and you can see a few other options in the article I just linked to. As always, let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Al Mamun Ansar says:

Dear Roger,

First of all, let me thank you for the painstaking effort to answer and give valuable inpur on each and every query from newbies like us. Is for ppl like you we get the courage and incentive to plan our own trip, rather than go for a travel agent.

I am planning a 23 day trip with my spouse, starting in Paris on May 8, and departing from Rome on May 31, 2018. These cities are fixed , as ticket is book. My Plan is:

City Stay Time of travel Mode of travel
Paris, France 3.00 Overnight Bus
Berlin, Germany 3.00 Early Morning Bus
Prague, Czech 3.00 Early Morning Bus
Munich, Germany 3.00 Early Morning Bus
Vienna, Austria 2.00 Early Morning Bus
Budapest 3.00 Overnight Bus
Venice, Italy 2.00 Overnight Bus
Rome, Italy 5.00 Fly to home

Now I know Bus is not the best way to travel, but I am getting a good deal in Flixbus 5 city in 99 Euro, SO I am taking it- as we are on a steep budget. We will be on a schengen visa.
My queries are:
1. Will reach Paris in afternoon after a long flight, so should I just add one day in Paris?
2. If you had to exclude one city, which would you do? Can’t exclude Venice, Budapest and Prague. Berlin or Vienna-which one should it be?
3. Am I being too mainstream? Can you suggest one or two cities which will be worthwhile to stay? I am looking beautiful picturesque cities, not necessarily big metropolis-with a cheaper accommodation.
4. Feel free to suggest a separate route for us for the duration.

We are from Bangladesh, and very excited to visit the beautiful Europe. Hope to get some valuable info to make decision making easy for us. Thanks in advance.

Ansar

 

    Ansar,

    I’m happy to try to help anyone with this.

    1. My recommendation for Paris on a first-time visit is 3 nights, or 4 nights if you have the time. If you can somehow add another day in Paris I’d do it, but if it means having to do Berlin in two days, I’d keep it at three days each. Berlin is a huge city with a lot to see as well.

    2. I would save Vienna for another trip, though others would disagree. Berlin is a large and exciting city with a lot of surprises, and it’s a bit cheaper than Vienna as well. Vienna is far more compact and it’s more like visiting a huge museum. There are a couple of famous palaces there and many large and posh old buildings like the opera house and that sort of thing. So, as I said, some people would find Vienna more interesting. I’m also someone who likes a couple of drinks in the evening, and Vienna feels very stodgy for nightlife, while Berlin is very trendy and interesting and much more of a party feel.

    3. For a first time to Europe I actually recommend being mainstream like you are planning. Every city on your list is famous for a reason and each is a top-tier tourist destination. The one sort of “hidden gem” that I can recommend is Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic. It’s about 3 hours from Prague by bus, and it’s a small and gorgeous town that is also very cheap. It’s similar in price to Budapest and cheaper than Prague. And it’s so small that any hotel or guesthouse is a short walk to the center.

    4. My other suggestions to consider would be to spend only one night in Venice and perhaps stop in Florence for 2 or 3 nights on your way to Rome, and only spend 3 nights in Rome. Venice is very expensive and it’s extremely crowded during the day, so it get’s old pretty fast. It’s also small enough that you can see the main highlights in a 24-hour stay, especially if you use the early morning and evening for sights because the town is far less crowded at those times (many people visit Venice by bus just during the day). And Rome is also kind of expensive, and also fairly chaotic. After four nights you’d have seen everything you want to see, and you will probably be tired of it as well. Florence is a bit cheaper and it’s the most popular stop in between by far.

    I’m happy to help so let me know if you have any other questions. Bangladesh is one of the very few Asian countries I’ve yet to visit myself. -Roger

     
Natalia Astrid says:

Hi Roger,
I’m so happy to find your website. This is really what I need, it is very informative.
Me, my husband and my 3.5 yo boy have never been in Europe and we are planning to travel to Europe for 16 days trip (not include the travel time) from 30th May to 16th June next year. We’re flying into Munich and fly off from Stockholm. We are planning to viskt 5 countries and the following cities but are not sure if it will doable or not.
D-1 Arrive in Munich 06.30am, off to Prague, sleep in Prague.
D-2 Prague, off to Munich at noon, sleep in Munich.
D-3 Munich, sleep in Munich.
D-4 Daytrip to Rothenburg odt and Nurnberg, sleep in Munich.
D-5 Daytrip to Oberammergau and Neuschwanstein Castle, sleep in Munich.
D-6 Daytrip to Landsberg am Lech and Augsburg, sleep in Munich.
D-7 to Garmish Partenkirchen & Mittenwald, off to Inssbruck, sleep in Innsbruck.
D-8 Innsbruck, sleep in Innsbruck.
D-9 to Salzburg, sleep in Salzburg.
D-10 Daytrip to Obertraun and Hallstatt, sleep in Salzburg.
D-11 to Luzern by train (approx. 6 hours), sleep in Luzern.
D-12 Luzern, off to Wengen at noon, sleep in Wengen.
D-13 Wengen, Jungfraujoch, Kleinne Scheidegg, sleep in Wengen.
D-14 Grindelwald and Schynige Platte, sleep in Wengen.
D-15 Lauterbrunnen, fly to Stockholm from Zurich Airport, sleep in Stockholm.
D-16 Stockholm, sleep in Stockholm.
D-17 Daytrip to Vaxholm & Sigtuna, sleep in Stockholm.
D-18 Fly home, leave Stockholm 09.40.

Could you please help us with the following?
1. Should we remove or consider to add antoher country? Can you suggest one or two place which should remove if a must?
2. If we must skip Innsbruck, how will it affect to my itinerary? Can you suggest the best route?
3. I don’t think we need an Eurail Pass, is my thinking right?

Would love to hear from you soon. Thanks in advance 🙂

 

    Natalia,

    I’m happy to try to help.

    First off I’ll mention that I highly recommend spending 3 nights in almost any European city that you visit. That gives you two full sightseeing days, followed by a travel day to another city. Unfortunately, even though some cities are close together and the train rides are only two hours in some cases, it’s still hard to do sightseeing on travel days. From the time you leave your hotel in one city until you are checked into the hotel in the next city, it usually takes most of the middle of a day. And check-in time at most hotels is 3pm. You can often check in by noon or so, but other times they will just hold onto your luggage and ask you to come back at 3pm to get into your room. In other words, don’t plan on being able to do much quality sightseeing on travel days. Riding around on trains is also a bit tiring for some reason.

    With that in mind I wouldn’t recommend trying to visit Prague in 24 hours. Prague is a gorgeous city with so much to see that even 2 nights there would have you feeling rushed. I’d either stay at LEAST two nights or save it for another trip.

    Your Munich schedule also looks frenzied with those day trips. It can be done, but spending 6 hours on a train in a day with a 3 hour visit in the middle will feel tiring. Nurnberg isn’t very interesting, so I’d skip that as well. And I would also skip Innsbruck, as you mentioned. It’s famous as a ski resort and for having held the Winter Olympics, but the sights are quite plain, especially compared to Salzburg. Your Switzerland visit looks pretty good, although you may want to scan my article on where to go in Switzerland for more advice and ideas.

    Especially if you eliminate Prague, a Eurail Pass would not be good value for you. Most of those day-trip train rides you have in mind will be done on local or suburban trains (rather than the intercity express trains) and they are fairly cheap. Also, since you’ll have a fixed schedule it will actually be cheaper to buy your train tickets at least a month or two in advance. Interestingly, these advanced sale train tickets can be quite cheap. Rail passes are great for longer trips and being able to travel on short notice, but the passes aren’t cheap so advanced tickets are almost always cheaper if you can get them. I’m happy to help with other advice if you need it. -Roger

     
TJ says:

Roger, we have a round trip flight to Paris France. We would love to visit Rome on our trip, but I know it is pretty far away from Paris and we need to get back to Paris to fly home. Do you think visiting Rome would be too big of a journey? How would you suggest we get to and from rome? We have 15 days in Europe.
Thanks so much!
sincerely,
TJ

 

    TJ,

    If you have at least 3 nights for Rome I think it would be a great idea to include it in your trip. You might even have a scan of an article I wrote about Europe’s 5 best tourist cities, which includes both Paris and Rome. If you have 2 or 3 additional days you might even add Florence and/or Venice to the Italy visit. It’s fast and fairly cheap to get between those Italian cities by train as long as you buy a month or more in advance.

    As for getting between Paris and Rome, there are night trains but they are slow and expensive. I would fly for sure. You should be able to get a round-trip fare for around US$100 if you buy far enough in advance. If you are going to fly back into Paris on the same day you are flying home you also need to pay close attention to which airports you’ll be using. The cheaper flights within Europe are often out of smaller airports, while your flight home is almost certainly out of CDG. I’m happy to help more if you have other questions. -Roger

     
deemasurie says:

Hello Roger!

We are going to Europe in 2019 and will have 3 weeks. I’m flying into Athens and hopefully will travel elsewhere. My plan is to go to Paris, Belgium, Berlin, and a few.This seems like a bit much but I don’t know where to cut our trips short. we travel photography. What is your suggestion?

Thanks in advance!

 

    Deemasurie,

    First off I would recommend planning for 3 nights in pretty much every city you visit. That means if you have 3 weeks it would be ideal to plan on visiting 7 cities.

    For Greece it really depends on the time of the year. Athens is interesting all year round, but the other popular thing to do is to visit one of the many islands, and those are mostly empty until late April, and then empty again starting in November. So if you are coming in the warm months you could spend 3 nights in Athens and then take a ferry or flight to Santorini or Rhodes or Mykonos, for example. Those islands are all large enough that you could probably get a flight directly from one of them to Paris or another city.

    If you go to Paris you could visit Brussels and Bruges next. I actually prefer Bruges to Brussels because it’s a more interesting tourist city. You can stop in Brussels for a few hours to see the main sights around the central square, and then take another train to Bruges to stay 2 or 3 nights. After that you might also go to Amsterdam, which is one of Europe’s best tourist cities. After that you can take a train to Berlin in about 5 or 6 hours. This should at least help you get more of your plan together on your own. I’m happy to help if you have other questions. -Roger

     
Raj says:

Dear Roger

You’re a star!!!

After spending a week reading your very interesting/ addictive articles, Q&A etc., I have decided to go to Europe for a 4 weeks holiday with my wife and 10 year old daughter in Oct-18, we are based in Sydney and this will be our first trip to Europe. We both love the history and natural beauty/ picturesque landscape Europe has to offer.
As you mentioned multiple times, I have assigned 3 days for each major city, here is my plan –

Places Days
Sydney to Edinburgh flight 2
Scotland 3
London 3
Brussels 2
Paris 3
Interlaken/Lucerne/Bern 3
Nice/Cannes/Monaco 3
Venice 2
Florence/Cinque Terre 3
Rome 3
Back to Sydney flight 2
Total 29

I have kept out Amsterdam as I think it may not be appropriate to my little one, thoughts?

My questions are –
1- Is this plan doable, are we rushing?
2- Am I missing any interesting/more beautiful places by choosing the most popular cities considering we both love picturesque landscape?
3- Would you suggest hiring a car from Paris and drive down or prefer catching flights/trains? Is this possible for you to suggest the best travel mode/timing to my itinerary?
4- Is it batter to book the local tour or do the sightseeing by ourselves?
5- I love to visit Germany/berlin, can this be doable and how?
6- Any other suggestions to make this trip a lifetime memory?

I look forward to hear from you soon,
Many thanks in advance.

Raj

 

    Raj,

    I’m so happy that my information has been helpful. I understand why you might hesitate to bring your daughter to Amsterdam based on its reputation, but it’s not nearly as bad as you might think and as it used to be, and it’s definitely one of Europe’s most beautiful and historic cities. The city government purposely shrunk the “red light district” about 8 years ago so now the famous windows only occupy a small number of alleyways in one small area of town. And during the day most of them are empty so even if you happen to pass near them you usually can’t even tell. As for the marijuana, that has been scaled back as well. There are still “coffeeshops” in quite a few locations around town, but they are obvious from a distance and therefore easy to avoid. If you were to stay near the Anne Frank House or the museum district, you might not even see or notice them. Personally, I would substitute Amsterdam for Brussels for sure. But since I’m not a parent it’s hard for me to be confident with my advice. I would recommend Googling “family travel in Amsterdam” or something like that and I’m sure you’ll see plenty of articles discussing the situation. And for me, Brussels is a bit boring after you’ve explored the small area around the main square. I recommend Bruges as a more interesting alternative that is also a bit cheaper.

    1 – It’s very doable and since you scheduled 3 nights in most places, it’s not rushed either. It looks fantastic to me.

    2 – I’ve been all over Europe and to many hidden corners, and I actually think that the popular cities are popular for justifiable reasons. If you were staying two months or if this was your second trip I might suggest a few other places, but for a first visit I think you’ve scheduled nonstop highlights, perhaps with the exception of Brussels. And even Brussels is quite nice to be honest. You’ll get great landscapes from Edinburgh to London on the train, and all over Switzerland as well as in most of Italy. I like your itinerary a lot.

    3 – I normally don’t recommend hiring cars in Europe to go between large cities because parking is always expensive and a big hassle (on purpose), plus the trains are so pleasant. However, hiring a car on the day you leave Paris and then driving to Switzerland and then returning the car when you arrive in Nice might be a great idea if you can get a decent price. The roads in that part of Europe are quite good, and parking in those smaller Swiss towns and cities can sometimes be free. Interlaken in particular is fairly spread out even though it’s small, and many of the hotels near the train stations have free parking lots. You could potentially spend all three nights in one of those and then visit the others by car. Parking in Lucerne and Bern probably won’t be free, but at least it won’t be like parking in London. Another thing is that the train connections between Switzerland and Nice are slow, so driving is actually much faster. For every other leg of your trip the trains are faster or at least as fast as driving, except for that area.

    4 – I would arrange your own sightseeing. I actually quite like those hop-on, hop-off bus tours in larger cities because you can see most highlights in a few hours, and I also like the “free” (tips-based) walking tours for the same reason. But hiring someone for a whole day or having someone book all of your stops for you isn’t good value, and it’s all easy to do on your own. I can help more later if you have questions.

    5 – Berlin is one of my favorites as well, but it is quite out of the way. I can’t think of an easy way to add it to your trip unless you added 3 or 4 more days, or deleted other worthwhile places.

    6 – I think you have a great start on your planning and I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. As your trip approaches you are free to ask other questions in the comments below any article on the sight and I’ll be happy to offer advice. Have a fantastic trip. -Roger

     
Mona says:

Hi Roger
Your articles are brilliant I must say!
We are planning a family holiday in Europe in Dec 2018…I know planning early. We just got back from a holiday so need to start planning the next one to stay motivated!
My daughters are aged 19 and 12 and this will be our first family holiday in Europe….the must visits are London and Paris. The girls also want to see snow and possibly skiing. Any suggestions? Looking at roughly 2 weeks. We will be travelling from Australia.
Look forward to hearing from you
Thanks
Mona

 

    Mona,

    I understand the post-trip motivation. London and Paris are both excellent choices and I believe they live up to the hype. For snow and skiing you have quite a few choices, but I would recommend going to Switzerland, especially as it’s a fairly convenient and scenic train ride from Paris. Switzerland is also by far the most scenic country in Europe, although it’s a bit expensive even compared to its neighbors. The best area to see the amazing scenery including snow and skiing is Interlaken, which you can read more about in my article about where to go in Switzerland on a short visit.

    The ski season tends to start in the middle of December there, although some lifts at higher elevations usually open sooner. This year they opened around December 10 for most ski lifts, including the easy to reach ones in Murren and Grindlewald, which are both near Interlaken.

    On a two-week trip I’d do 4 nights in London and 3 or 4 nights in Paris. You could enjoy Switzerland in 3 nights, or 4 or 5 if you also visit Lucerne. That would even give you a few more days to include another stop. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Raj says:

Thanks for your prompt response Roger, highly appreciated!

I revisit my Itinerary, it seems the Amsterdam would be out of my way and to make it there, I really need to reduce my time in France which I would like to avoid.

Here is my modified itinerary, I would go along in the same order –
Places Days
Sydney to Edinburgh flight 2
Scotland 3
London 3
Paris 3
Paris to Switzerland drive… 1
Interlaken/Lucerne/Bern 3
Switzerland to Nice drive… 1
Nice/Cannes/Monaco 3
Cinque Terre 2
Venice 2
Florence 3
Rome 3
Back to Sydney flight 2
Total 31

My questions are –
1 Is it worth going to Amsterdam (2 days) by reducing Paris and Nice/Cannes to 4 days (or skipping Nice/Cannes)? As I have to travel during the day so the leisure time will be less then what I wrote in my itinerary.
2 Is it worth going to Nice/Cannes at all? Do you think visiting Brittany region or any other part of France give me more insight of castles/France?
3 The Venice seems to be out of the way too, is it wiser to go Venice from Interlaken or either from Monaco or Cinque Terre? The trains seems to be taking a long time between these destinations. Any suggestions?
4 Any local sites for batter hotels/trains deals?

Many thanks
Raj

 

    Raj,

    1. In my opinion, Amsterdam is far more interesting and memorable than Nice and Cannes, although Monaco is pretty dramatic for a day (because it’s tiny). Also, I might even leave off Cinque Terre, which could free up more time. Cinque Terre are simply 5 seaside villages that were mostly untouched by tourism as of twenty years ago, so some influential travel writers highly recommended them. Now they are so filled with tourists that they are having to limit the numbers because the experience is no longer worthwhile and sustainable. Only one of the villages (Vernazza) is extremely scenic anyway.

    2. Nice and Cannes are seaside resorts where French people go to holiday, so they aren’t typical of France in most ways. The Loire Valley is pretty close to Paris and it’s filled with palaces and castles where the royals used to live, many of which are open to the public. Brittany also has some great sights, but the coast there is also more of a holiday area than a living area. They are all great choices and it’s hard for me to push you towards just one of them.

    3. I see what you mean. Most big cities in France have high-speed rail service between them, but the trains leaving the country are often slow as you mention. But once you get in Italy the express trains are fast. If you took a train from Nice to Milan and then another one to Venice, I think it would be the fastest route. Venice is truly an amazing place to see once in your life and I would keep it in your itinerary if possible.

    4. For trains it’s best to buy tickets as early as possible through the official rail websites for each country, which are all listed near the bottom of that article. As for hotels the best deals in Europe tend to be on booking.com, but you might also want to look into Airbnb.com for rentals as well. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Al Mamun Ansar says:

Hello Roger
Ansar here Again, from Bangladesh. Decided to skip Vienna, and add 1 more day to Berlin and Paris (4 nights each now), as well as add Florence, 2 nights(shaved off a day from Rome). Would it be terrible if we skip Venice altogether? In such case can add one more day to Florence(want to visit Pisa) or Budapest. Also Cesky can be an option as you suggested. Venice seems a little hyped up to me.
Thanks a lot again.

ANSAR

 
Brad Fowler says:

Hi Roger

We have been researching a trip to Europe and come across your articles which we have found most informative.

We are looking at travelling to Europe from Sydney in early October 2018 for about 3 weeks.

After a bit of research we have come up with the following outline noting we need to be in Paris about 8 days in:

London 3 nights
Brussels 2 nights
Paris 3 nights
Amsterdam 3 nights
Berlin 3 nights
Prague 2 nights
Munich 2 nights

We would return to Sydney from Paris.

Do you have any thoughts on our proposed plans especially if we need to trim some cities out? We are still not firm on the best way around (flying v train/bus travel) so we would be interested on your thoughts on that as well.

Regards

Brad

 

    Brad,

    I’m happy to hear that this information is helpful. I think your trip looks great. My advice would be to cut out Brussels and add those days to Prague and Munich, so you are 3 nights in each city. That is my strong recommendation in general, as it gives you two full sightseeing days in each place and then one travel day when you aren’t so pressured to see the sights. Brussels has an interesting city center, but aside from that it’s now mostly a business and government city without many other sights. If you go London to Paris to Amsterdam to Berlin to Prague to Munich you’ll be hitting all of the most interesting cities and Brussels would have been almost forgotten anyway.

    I would also definitely recommend taking trains on all of this. You can take the Eurostar train from London to Paris, and then normal high-speed trains between all of the others. If you buy the train tickets about two months in advance, they will be surprisingly cheap, and probably cheaper than flying. Also, the trains there are fast, comfortable, and efficient. It’s a real joy to take high-speed trains from one city center to another, especially compared to taking a taxi or bus out to an airport and then going through security and all that. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Christy says:

Hi Roger, We are just starting to plan a two week trip to Europe with our 18 and 17 year old kids in June. We definitely want to visit Rome. Do you think we have time for Rome, Florence, Venice, (a few small towns along the way) and some of Switzerland? If so, how do you recommend we get to Switzerland? Thank you!

 

    Christy,

    You definitely have time. I would recommend 3 nights in Rome, 3 nights in Florence, and 1 or 2 nights in Venice (it’s small enough to see in about 24 hours, and it’s so crowded that staying longer isn’t all that great). From Venice you can take a train to Interlaken with a change in Milan. That train is one of the most beautiful train rides in Europe so it’s a thrill in itself.

    Have a scan at my article on where to go in Switzerland on a short trip. The short version is that Interlaken is the most dramatic spot and you can see the top sights in 2 or 3 nights. Lucerne is the second most interesting place and you can see it in about two days as well. So really you have time for all of them.

    As for small cities in Italy between the major ones, that can be tricky. The major tourist cities have all the sights and have high-speed trains going between them. The small towns mostly have few sights and few people who speak any English. There are other smaller cities such as Pisa, Siena, Cinque Terre, and a few others, but on your first trip I would recommend focusing on the Big 3 cities on your list and then going to Switzerland for more thrills. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Mona says:

Thanks Roger for your prompt response…much appreciated. As per your advice, we will go to Interlaken for the snow from Paris. Considering we are not big ski buffs…just want to see the snow, would 2 nights be enough or should we go with 3 nights in case we want to visit nearby places in Interlaken?
Since we will have some time, we may include Italy too? Milan or Rome….any suggestions? and would you recommend flying between Switzerland or is train a good option too?

Sorry Roger – meant
Since we will have some time, we may include Italy too? Milan or Rome….any suggestions? and would you recommend flying between Switzerland and Italy or is train a good option too?

Regards
Mona

 

    Mona,

    As for Italy, the “Big 3” tourist cities are Rome, Florence, and Venice. Milan is interesting and it’s a handy transport hub, but it’s not very “Italian” compared to the others and there are far fewer top sights. So if you want to choose exactly one city in Italy to visit I’d say it should be Rome. If you had 6 days you could spend a day in Venice and then two days in Florence and then 3 days in Rome, and quickly get between them by high-speed train. However, if you only have about 3 total days it would probably be best just to fly to Rome. From Switzerland to Venice it’s an amazingly beautiful train journey, requiring a change in Milan. But from Switzerland to Rome it’s that same trip to Milan and then another 4 hours or so to get to Rome. That is a pretty long trip, so flying is probably the better option.

    As for Interlaken, I think 2 nights would be enough to get an excellent taste of it. Honestly, the views and scenery above Interlaken are some of the most beautiful in the world, and there are many different peaks and vistas with different views from each other, so no one gets bored in even 3 or 4 nights. It’s hard to say what is best, but I can say that as long as you have at least one full day from morning to night, you can have a fantastic visit. As always, let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Sandra says:

Hello,
We are taking our first trip to Europe (finally) and could use some advice. We have three weeks (Apil 18-May 9) and would like to begin in London. We had considered Paris, all the important parts of Italy, and flying home from Rome. We think our preference would be train versus flying within Europe if possible although we enjoy variety. What suggestions do you have to build our itinerary, how to begin booking accommodations, acquiring travel tickets, etc. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I read many of the other comments but feel free to point me back to any that speak to this. Thank you.

 

    Sandra,

    I’m glad you are finally heading to Europe, and I’ll be happy to try to help. Since you’ve got 3 weeks I’d say you have enough time for 6 to 8 total destinations, as I strongly recommend 3 nights in most places you visit with a few exceptions. This is what I’d recommend…

    Fly into London and spend 3 or 4 nights there. It’s a huge city and you might be jet lagged, so 4 nights could be best. Then take the Eurostar train (in 2 hours) to Paris. Spend 3 or 4 nights in Paris. Three should be enough, but Paris is amazing and four could be better.

    From Paris it’s best, fastest, and actually cheapest, to fly to Venice (or nearby Treviso). The overnight train is slow and expensive, yet the nonstop flights are cheap. Spend 1 or 2 nights in Venice, as Venice is small and crowded so spending longer there isn’t necessarily better, even though it’s an amazing place to see. From Venice take the train to Florence and spend 3 nights there. You could even stay a bit longer in Florence as it’s the ideal place for day trips to Pisa (an hour by train each way), Siena, some hill towns, or even Cinque Terre. From Florence take the train to Rome for 3 nights. Rome is quite chaotic even though it’s packed with excellent sights, so staying there longer can be frustrating.

    That itinerary gets you the best of Italy as well as London and Paris on the fastest and most enjoyable routes. In 3 weeks you might even have time to add a little side trip or two.

    As for hotels or airbnbs and such, late April and early May are still well before the busy season so you’ll have no problem finding good deals even if you don’t book too far in advance. On the other hand, there isn’t much advantage to waiting to book, and trying to find hotels on foot once you’ve arrived is not a good strategy in Europe. I prefer to book hotels once my dates and transportation are locked in. The Tripadvisor reviews in Europe are very reliable as long as you focus on places with more than 50 or 100 reviews. The reviews on Booking.com are reliable as well, and they usually have the best room rates on most hotels in Europe.

    Nearly all train tickets in Europe go on sale about 3 months out and the prices go up as more tickets are sold. In other words, if you book those tickets within the next month or so you’ll find that most of them are surprisingly cheap. The same goes for flights within Europe such as Paris to Venice. The sooner you buy the cheaper it will be and the more options you’ll have.

    I’m happy to help if you have other questions. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Mona says:

Sorry Roger – meant
Since we will have some time, we may include Italy too? Milan or Rome….any suggestions? and would you recommend flying between Switzerland and Italy or is train a good option too?

 
Mona says:

Thanks Roger – you have been extremely helpful.
So our rough itinerary looks as below:
London – 3 nights
Train to Paris
Paris – 3 nights
Train to Switzerland (debating between Lucerne and Interlaken still?)
Either destination in Swiss – 2 nights
Train to Florence
Florence – 3 nights (still to decide if we want to spend a day in Venice or not)
Train to Rome
Rome – 3 nights
Flight back home

Sounds reasonable and not too rushed?
Also is it easy to travel via train (routes above) with luggage – as we will be a family of 4, plus given the weather (need coats and woolens, etc.), we will have reasonably big suitcases (atleast a couple plus backpacs, etc.) . And I read in some of your comments above that the train bookings only open 3 months in advance…so can’t really book them right now. Are flights cheaper than trains?
Thanks in advance Roger
Cheers
Mona

 
areta says:

hi! finally a person to talk to for our first western europe trip. the plan is to start from ams and that morning will take high speed train to paris for 3 days then we get confused for weeks now, we initially wanted to go to Madrid from versailles since its the last place to visit on the 3rd day, then to valencia barcelona nice rome florence venice ams.
oooorrrrr…. versailles to nice by train, then barcelona, valencia madrid, and then to rome by plane. please help, we need some insights, fyi we are asians, first timer heheh. thanks really appreciated

 

    Areta,

    I’ll be happy to try to help. Versailles is in a nearby suburb of Paris, and even if you want to take the train from there you will almost certainly have to take a train back to central Paris and then a high-speed train to Nice or Barcelona. If you want to go to Madrid you’d have to take a suburban train from Versailles back into Paris and then out to one of the airports.

    So you could visit Paris and then fly to Madrid and after 3 nights you could take a train to Valencia. From Valencia you actually have to take the train back to Madrid and then change for another train to Barcelona, but both trains are fast and if you book well in advance it’s fairly cheap. The train from Barcelona to Nice takes 8 hours 20 minutes and leaves in the early afternoon, so you may actually consider flying. Nice is also a bit isolated by train on the Italy side since it takes over 7 hours to reach Venice from there, and longer to go to Rome. I would consider saving Nice for a future trip (it’s insanely crowded from June through August as well) and perhaps just flying from Barcelona to Venice and then going from there to Florence and then to Rome and flying from Rome back to Amsterdam if you need to catch your flight home from there. In other words, if you cut out Nice the trains are much faster and cheaper.

    I hope this helps and I’m happy to help more if you need it. You have a great itinerary in the works, and with a few changes it will be very easy and efficient as well. -Roger

     
april says:

my husband is retiring and we are trying to plan a 14 day trip to Europe. There will be four of us …my mother in law in her 70’s and her husband of 80 also. We checked into the celebrity cruise to Northern Europe such as Germany, Sweden, and a few other place. However, we would like to see more of the country. in 2015 we visited Venice and the surrounding areas and absolutely fell in love!!!!! thinking about some parts of the mediterranean or Greak Isles. What would you suggest for a trip of a lifetime!!!!

 

    April,

    It depends a bit on what time of year you’ll be doing this trip, but for now I’ll assume it will be in summer. Actually, a cruise might just be perfect for what you have in mind. There are cruises like you mention that are mostly in Germany, the Nordic countries, and even St. Petersburg, but if you haven’t spent any time in the Mediterranean other than the Venice area, I think you’ll find far more charm there.

    On a 14-day trip if you did it by land or ferry you’d want to plan either 4 or 5 total destinations because 3 nights in each place is the sweet spot in order to go fast enough to see a lot but not so fast that you are on trains every other day. But with a 14-day Med cruise you could see 10 or more cities. With the older couple they may not be in the mood to ride trains and ferries and pack and unpack even every third day, so a cruise could be ideal. Barcelona is probably the most popular starting point for Med cruises, and it’s a wonderful city on its own. If you did, say, a 10-day or 12-day cruise starting from there you could spend a few days exploring that city before or after.

    Another option would be to fly into Paris and from there either take a train to Nice and then head into Italy to visit Florence and Rome (and maybe one other city), or from Paris take a train to Barcelona and then visit Madrid and Valencia and perhaps also Seville and/or Granada.

    Or you could do Paris and then take a high-speed train to Amsterdam and after that fly to Athens and then take a ferry to Santorini or another Greek island. You have many choices and hopefully one or two of these ideas sparks something in you that sounds good. I’m happy to help with more advice if you need it. -Roger

     
Jess says:

Hi Roger!

Firstly thank you for your super informative post, it’s really enlightening for people like me who have never been to Europe before.

I am from Singapore and my boyfriend and I are looking to do a graduation trip in Europe this coming April and was hoping you can help advise on the current plan we have.

We have 14 days for this trip which includes 2 days of flight time to and fro Europe. We plan to first fly to London and spend 2 nights there, followed by 3 nights in either Belgium/Amsterdam. (will like your opinion on which is a better choice for first-timers in Europe as well), then 3 nights in Lucerne (Switzerland) with a day trip out to interlaken. We will then end our trip in Italy where we plan to spend 2 nights in Rome and 2 nights in Venice.

Also we will like to ask if its possible to travel between the cities on this current plan by train for the entire trip?

Will really appreciate your kind help on this!

Cheers
Jess

 

    Jess,

    Thank you. I really like all of your choices of stops, but in my opinion you’ll be rushing too much to enjoy the trip. The problem is that traveling from one city to another will take most of a day in most cases, and if you travel every other day it means that your sightseeing time is cut in half. For example, London to Amsterdam (which I strongly prefer to anywhere in Belgium for a first visit) from the time you check out of your hotel in London until the time you check into your hotel in Amsterdam it will probably be around 6 hours, and that’s true whether you fly or take trains. So if you leave your hotel at 09:00 and get to your next hotel at 15:00, the sightseeing day is almost over by the time you check in. With that in mind my strong preference and recommendation is to spend 3 nights just about anywhere you go, and especially in a large and sight-filled city such as London.

    So if you have 12 nights in Europe I would recommend choosing 4 destinations, so you only have 3 travel days between them. If you choose 6 destinations it means 5 travel days between them, out of your 12 total days. You can actually enjoy Venice in only about 24 hours, but in Rome you’d want 3 nights for sure. I’d recommend either saving Amsterdam or Switzerland for a future trip, and keeping London, Venice, and Rome on your list. You might even have a scan of an article I wrote recommending Europe’s 5 great cities, which include those 3.

    From London you can get to Paris by train in a bit over two hours, and honestly I’d recommend Paris as the second highest priority. Or you can go London to Brussels and then to Amsterdam on the Eurostar. But flying from London to Amsterdam takes about the same amount of time, and the train ride isn’t very scenic anyway. Getting to Switzerland from Paris by train is a great idea, but from Amsterdam you’d want to fly into Zurich and take trains from there. And finally the train ride from Switzerland to Venice is amazing through the Alps, and the trains between Venice and Rome take about 3.5 hours. I’m happy to give you more advice if you need it, and I hope this helps. -Roger

     
areta says:

hey ROger, thank you so much for replying, we really appreciated.
we have browsed the flights and it seems the fares increase over the weekend. we plan to leave paris on the 24 th, to Madrid, we are spending1 night there and leave for valencia the following day (is there any night train available?) and barcelona another 1 day. we were thinking whether we should go to rome / italy from barcelona? because if we go back and forth to Madrid, don’t you think it will be time consuming, or is it the most economic way possible to take this route. and what you think about Eurail pass, which one do you think beneficial accordingly to our itinerary … we are trying to look for the night train, so that we can save for the accommodation, but it seems that flying is more preferable and effective. oh one more thing, we wanna spend more time in Italy, rome Vatican, florence… venice would be just a passing by maybe because i think its quite pricey there. thanks again Roger… we are confused but we are glad that we found you hihihi

 

    Areta,

    From Madrid to Valencia the train takes only 1 hour 38 minutes, so there is no night train. From Barcelona to Madrid or Valencia it takes about 3 hours, and evidently they now have direct trains from Barcelona to Valencia so it’s faster than a few years ago. I’m not sure what your goals are, but unless your only goal was to say that you’ve slept in a particular city, I wouldn’t recommend visiting any of Spain’s cities for just one night. Even Valencia is large enough that 2 nights should be a minimum, and Madrid and Barcelona are much, much larger with far more major sights. If you are intent on rushing around Spain I would recommend 2 nights in Madrid and 2 nights in Barcelona as the shortest worthwhile trip, and leave Valencia for next time.

    Eurail Passes are good for long trips where people don’t want to commit to plans until the last minute, and they are quite expensive in general. It will be far cheaper for you to buy the tickets online as far in advance as possible, from the official country rail websites. Thanks to so many high-speed links between major cities, and also the cheap flights, night trains are mostly being phased out in Europe. Some night trains still operate, but they rarely save you money unless you are willing to sleep in a normal upright seat, and they aren’t as fun as you might think as well, which I outline in that article I linked to.

    The shortest Italy trip that I recommend is one night in Venice, two nights in Florence, and three nights in Rome (Vatican City is within Rome, of course). If you want to cut out Florence you could do that, but I really think you’d be better off going to fewer places and staying in them 3 nights each except for Venice. As you mentioned, flights can be very cheap if you buy long enough in advance or are willing to fly in the early morning or in the evenings. But trains are MUCH more enjoyable and you can usually travel in the middle of the day to also enjoy the scenery and experience. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Shivani says:

Hi Roger,
I plan to visit europe from 4th may’18 onwards for about 17 days.I will be travelling from Mumbai (india)
I want to see Greece(Athens,santorini,myconos) .would want to see prague and budapest .Also Italy(rome ,venice) Also london and Istanbul.
I would like to arrive or depart from London and Istanbul . I can take a open jaw from mumbai.
Could you please help me by letting me know the best route to follow for these contries.
Should i Start from london and move to prague-budapest-italy-greece-istanbul or vice versa.
Also if you could tell me how to travel between countries( train or fly).
Thanks a lot.
Will really appreciate your kind help on this!

 

    Shivani,

    Your plan sounds wonderful except I think you have too many stops planned. As mentioned in the article above, my strong recommendation is to plan for 3 nights in almost any city you visit. If you try to change cities every day or every other day you’ll end up spending half or more of your holiday on trains or planes or airports. It would be similar to someone visiting India for the first time with an itinerary of Mumbai for 2 days, Goa for 2 days, Kerala for 1 day, Delhi for 2 days, Varanasi for 1 day, Pushkar for 1 day, and then Jaipur for 1 day before a flight home. It’s faster to get between European cities, but it still takes most of the day to go from a hotel in one city until you are in a hotel in the next city.

    If you have 17 days I would recommend keeping it to 6 total destinations. You could fly into Istanbul and spend 3 days there. Then fly to Athens for 2 or 3 days, and visit one island (Santorini) for 2 or 3 days. From Santorini you could fly to any of the others on your list and spend 3 days there, and then one more stop before flying to London for 3 days and then your flight home. I’d say the best and easiest would be to fly from Santorini to Rome and spend 3 days there before going to Florence for 2 days and Venice for 1 day, or skip Florence and go straight to Venice. Prague and Budapest are both beautiful cities, but the trains that reach them are slow and would take nearly a whole day to get there and somewhere else again. I would save those for another trip.

    You’ll have to fly between most of these stops except of course Athens to Santorini, which has ferries that take 5 to 8 hours in addition to flights. And from Rome to Florence and/or Venice is fast by train. For the others you’ll have to fly. Tickets are pretty cheap if you buy them far enough in advance. You could start in Istanbul and go towards London or do it the other way around and there isn’t much difference. Sorry that I couldn’t help put all of your destinations into one 17-day itinerary. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     

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