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



380 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

     
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

Does this sound reasonable and hopefully 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 a better option (and cheaper) than trains?
Thanks in advance Roger.
Cheers
Mona

 

    Mona,

    Interlaken has more scenic thrills than Lucerne so I definitely recommend going there if you have to choose one. As much as I don’t recommend rushing around, I would do one day in Venice and two in Florence rather than just three days in Florence. Venice is truly a magical city and even though it’s crowded and a bit expensive, it’s worth seeing it with your own eyes even for just one day.

    Doing this trip all on trains will be easier than you imagine. You’ll be riding on Intercity Express-type trains that only stop in the largest cities and have reasonably large seats and good legroom. All those trains also have space over your head for most suitcases, and a common luggage storage area at each end of the carriage for larger bags. They are designed for trips like this, unlike the suburban or commuter trains that sometimes have minimal luggage room.

    From London to Paris you’ll want to take the Eurostar train, and I think they sell seats 4 months out for that. Buy early and it will be fairly cheap. Almost no airlines even fly between those cities because the train is so much better. For the rest of the trip the train is still the better option, and in all cases it would actually be faster as well. Sometimes you can find super-cheap flights between cities like this, but those fares don’t include luggage or even a seat assignment. The trains are far more spacious and comfortable, and with the scenery they are also relaxing and interesting. Except for perhaps Paris to Interlaken, those train tickets will be pretty cheap if you buy early. Have a wonderful trip. -Roger

     
Fred says:

Hi Roger,

I am planning a 1 week trip to Barcelona/Paris in early to mid November. I am hoping to leave home on a Saturday and return home the following Saturday. Do you think this is enough time?

In Barcelona, we want to see an FC Barcelona game and spend a day or two seeing the city. In Paris, we want to do Disney and also a day or two sightseeing.

Upon some research, I can take either a train (6 hrs) or flight (1-2 hours) for fairly cheap between the two cities. The only thing is that I am finding that it is much cheaper to fly into one city and depart from the same city. When I check prices to fly into one city and leave from the other, prices skyrocket. So, that being said, I would need to do a return trip via plane/train to the original city to fly back home, which takes up about some time.

Not really sure what to do here as I want to make it as cheap as possible but also cut out as much back in forth with the travel so I can spend more time enjoying the two cities.

Any feedback would be appreciated!

Thank you.

-Fred

 

    Fred,

    This sounds like a great trip. Yes, a week to see two cities is just about perfect, even if you use one of those days in transit. My recommendation is to spend 3 nights in pretty much any city you visit, so spending 3 nights in each of these would work well. I know what you mean about the very expensive “open-jaw” plane tickets into one city and out of another. In some parts of the world that is not an issue, but across the Atlantic it almost always is unless you can fly Norwegian Air.

    My recommendation would be to fly into one of those cities and then take the train to the other after 3 days. It’s not a particularly scenic route, but the train is FAR more pleasant than flying and dealing with airport transportation and security and all of that. And then after 3 nights in the second city it’s probably best to fly back to the first one and then home from there. One thing to be careful of if you first fly into Paris is that most long-haul flights land at Charles de Gaule Airport, while most of the cheaper flights within Europe land at Orly Airport. So if you can fly from Barcelona into CDG Airport at least 2 or 3 hours before your flight home leaves, you should be fine. But if you flew into Orly and had to take a bus or series of trains to CDG, that would take another hour or two and cost some money as well. Barcelona only has one main airport, although there are a few smaller ones in the general area.

    If you buy that train ticket and the flight between cities as early as possible, they should be pretty cheap. Vueling is Spain’s main low-cost airline and it’s one of the better ones, so you’d be doing well if you can find a cheap flight on that.

    One last thing is that you need to research tickets to the match at Camp Nou long before you go. As large as it is, the tickets to the famous teams in Europe are usually sold out way in advance, and in many cases you need to be a member in order to get them at all. I haven’t been to a match there, but I do know that getting tickets to big matches in Europe is often much more complicated than it is in the US or elsewhere. Best of luck and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Margareth says:

Hi! It’s going to be our first time in Europe. Will be traveling May 6-30. Paris will be our first point of entry then Amsterdam’s tha last. Should we go to Spain first after Paris or Italy then Spain? Will it be worth it to get Eurail? Will visit Paris,Italy,Spain,Switzerland,Germany,Belgium,Netherlands and Austria.

 

    Margareth,

    I would go from Paris to Barcelona by train and then to Madrid on the train. From there I’d fly to Rome and then go north through Italy from there, and then into Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, and Netherlands.

    That said, if you have 24 days I would recommend choosing right around 8 total destinations and then staying 3 nights in each of them. If you try to stay only one or two nights in any given city it means you spend every day or every other day on trains and in train stations, and not nearly enough time actually sightseeing. Some small cities such as Venice and Bruges can be appreciated in a day or two, but the larger cities really require two full sightseeing days to appreciate.

    Eurail passes are great for long trip where people want to make plans as they go. Those passes are actually quite expensive on a per-day basis, and you can almost always travel more cheaply if you reserve your train tickets at least a few weeks in advance. I would recommend you figure out your ideal itinerary and then buy the train tickets once you’ve got it all locked in. Many of those tickets will be surprisingly cheap, especially compared to Eurail Passes. Let me know if you have any other questions and I’ll be happy to help further. -Roger

     
Rosie says:

Hi Roger: I’m planning a 15 day trip to Europe with my 17 and 15 year olds. We are flying into Schiphol and staying a few days with our friends in Breda. It looks like we could day trip to Brugge and Brussels (if you recommend). Then I thought we would high speed train to Paris (two nights) then to Zurich, on to Austria (I’m thinking two nights), Prague (possibly Berlin) working our way to Warsaw (best friends live there and we will spend a few nights there with them). Can you please give me your thoughts on this itinerary? Any suggestions on where the best cities to go to along this route?

This will be my kids first trip to Europe (we live in the states). I appreciate your feedback.

Oh and we were thinking we would take trains pretty much the whole way to Poland (if it seems realistic)

 

    Rosie,

    That sounds like a great trip for a family. But I don’t think you’ll have enough time to visit all of the places on your list. If you have 15 days and you spend the first 3 in the Netherlands you have 12 left. If you want to spend the last 3 days in Warsaw you have 9 days in between. My strong recommendation is to spend 3 nights in pretty much any place you visit, because if you try to go faster it means spending too much time on trains and in train stations and checking in and out of hotels.

    I would go from Breda straight to Paris and spend 3 (or possibly 4) nights there. If you still want to do Warsaw then you are down to 6 nights. Unless you have something specific to see in Zurich, I would skip it (it’s very expensive and a bit boring) and go to Interlaken instead. You can read about Interlaken in my article on where to go on a short Switzerland visit. The problem you’d have at that point is that it would take almost two travel days to get from Interlaken to Warsaw by train, so there is no efficient city to visit in between. Trains go much slower once you get into the eastern countries such as Czechia and Poland, and bus travel is generally about the same speed with more departure times.

    In other words, if you want to visit Warsaw it’s probably best to fly. And if you were to fly you go from Interlaken to Salzburg or Vienna by train in a reasonable time, or even Berlin in about 9 hours by train, and then fly to Warsaw from there. If you can save Warsaw for a future trip you could visit two of those cities I mentioned, including even Prague if you wanted. I’m happy to help more as your itinerary comes together. -Roger

     
Nancy Nagwekar says:

Hi Roger
I am Nancy from Mumbai, India. In April 2018 we are planning a 4 week family trip (husband and 2 boys -20/23 years old) to Europe. My kids have not been to Europe before. We want England, Scotland and possibly Belfast (sons are Game of Throne fans), Paris, North West Europe – Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Hague, Amsterdam, Parts of West Germany (Cologne, Dusseldorf, Dortmund, Bonn, Frankfurt) Luxembourg. If time permits, we would like to add either Italy or Switzerland. WE are interested in Literature, Theatre, culture, history, museums, world war, Karl Marx, football (Arsenal fans), Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Dan Brown. We want to fly into one city, take local trains/buses for easy transport between cities, and fly out of the last city, without retracting too much of the trip. Would you be able to give us some suggestions and some itinerary. I found your replies are very informative and exhaustive. Thanks in advance

 

    Nancy,

    I’ll be happy to try to help. You’ve got quite a long list there and I wouldn’t recommend trying to visit everything on there, but in 4 weeks you will be able to visit quite a bit. My strong recommendation for trips like this is to plan on staying 3 nights in almost any city you visit, except for 1 or 2 nights in some of the smallest cities such as Venice or Bruges. With that in mind if you have 28 days you should try to find maybe 9 or 10 cities to visit, and then see how well you can string them together with trains.

    You could start by flying into London and spending 3 nights there and then take a train up to Edinburgh for 2 or 3 nights there. Getting to Belfast and then getting somewhere else would take quite a bit of time, so I’d save that for a future trip.

    Then I would fly from Edinburgh to Amsterdam and base yourself there for 3 or possibly more days. Amsterdam is a beautiful, interesting, and historic city, and most other cities around it are fairly dull by comparison. If you wanted to see Rotterdam, the Hague, and a few other things in the Netherlands such as Delft, I would do it on an all-day bus tour from Amsterdam. Brussels has an interesting city center, but I recommend seeing that in an afternoon and then going to Bruges for 2 or 3 days, which is a better tourist city. Brussels is very much oriented to bureaucrats and business travelers. And being honest, those cities in west Germany are all pretty generic as well. Cologne has an interesting city center and its famous cathedral, but Dusseldorf, Dortmund, Bonn, and Frankfurt were all mostly destroyed in WWII and now they are modern business cities without much to see. Luxembourg City is nice and quite unusual though.

    And of course you definitely want to go to Paris for 3 or perhaps 4 days. It really lives up to the hype. If you want to visit Switzerland I would recommend at least scanning my article on where to go in Switzerland on a short trip. I would also put Italy as a high priority, as it’s another place that really impresses even jaded travelers. Have a look at my suggestions in my article on where to go in France and Italy. On even a short visit you definitely want at least a day in Venice and hopefully 3 nights in Florence and 3 nights in Rome.

    I’m happy to help more with this once you get your basic itinerary a bit more together. I’m sure this will be a very memorable trip and you can visit many places, even if not all of them on your list. -Roger

     
Laura G says:

Roger,
I love your website, so very well-organized.
I’m a librarian, age 50+ with a lot of vacation time, and plan to travel to Europe solo in late Feb/March. (leaving husband and college-aged kids at home) We saw all of Southern Germany by car in 1993, my only trip to Europe. (and Salzburg)
I’m budget minded, will use credit card travel points for airfare, open jaw. I’m willing to stay in hostels to save money and am confident about solo travel, trains travel as we are near NYC. My dates are flexible and I can be gone for 3 weeks to a month. Starting late Feb., early March. I thought avoiding Easter would be economical, but I notice a lot more economical flights the two weeks before Good Friday. (cheaper than if I use earlier dates)
For open jaw flights, using my credit card points, the lowest/most affordable combo cites in and out of Newark are London, Rome, Paris. Many are direct. But I also see open jaw combos using Dublin, Zurich, Barcelona, etc. Central European cities are much higher.
I love the look of this person’s itinerary, except for the long rides to Krakow, Budapest and Venice. (And I’d want to add London and Paris on to it) I’m willing to try night trains, but worry about getting sleep, potentially not having access to accomodations with an early arrival.
https://maketimetoseetheworld.com/europe-rail-25-days-highlights-tour/
I also like your 9 first-timer lists with add-ons to Paris/London/Amsterdam, Italy including Interlaken or some Switzerland.
I could do two trips this year, one in spring, one in fall. Or, I could just make one really longer trip now, getting the most out of this trip. I’d buy a regional rail pass, if recommended, where it would save money/offer flexibility.
Central Europe- Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Krakow interest me as much as London/Paris, but I would not want to skimp on Italy either. Unless I made Italy and perhaps Spain/Portugal, Croatia a whole separate trip. Or Italy and Central Europe a separate trip. Krakow seems to be the city hardest to get to, economically/efficiently in relation to most itineraries that don’t include the rest of Poland. Though I see cheap flights to Krakow from Berlin, London, Edinburgh in the right time frame.
Can you recommend a logical sequence for train travel, possibly including a few flights or Ferries, within Europe for close to a full month? Prioritizing London, Edinburgh, Paris, Interlaken-some Switzerland, Amsterdam, Some central Europe and some Italy? Using Paris, Rome and London as open jaw flights? (Or others, such as Zurich, Barcelona, Berlin)
I find that there are so many choices, it is hard to nail it down, without second guessing. The thrifty-person inside me wants to spend wisely, travel efficiently. Avoid long train rides, except when over-night if efficient.
Is it wise to split London/Paris? Not taking the train from one to the other, but instead starting on one city, seeing other country regions, and then ending in the other? Or similarly, starting in Amsterdam or Berlin and ending in Rome?

Thanks
Laura

 

    Laura,

    Thank you. I know what you mean about the amazing number of choices and how it can feel overwhelming. I think your most efficient route would be to fly into London and then take the train to Edinburgh. Then fly to Amsterdam and then the train down to Paris. From Paris you can take the train to Interlaken. After that you can take the gorgeous train ride from Interlaken to Milan and then to Venice before taking the train down to Florence and then Rome for your flight home. If you spent 3 days or so in each of those cities it would take 24 days, but I’d say Venice in about 24 hours is enough because it’s so crowded and expensive (and yet still amazing).

    Another way of doing it would be to go from Amsterdam to Berlin to Prague to Munich to Interlaken and then down into Italy, but that would be skipping Paris unless you flew there from Rome on your way home. Or you could visit London and then Edinburgh and then back to London before taking the Eurostar to Paris and then up to Amsterdam and Berlin and Prague etc. Those train tickets between London and Edinburgh are pretty cheap if you buy far enough in advance and can find a promotional fare.

    You may also want to scan my article on night trains in Europe. They are becoming less common and popular each year, and I’m not really a fan of them in most cases. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Marlo says:

Hi Roger,
Love all your fantastic information! My husband and I are headed to the Sout of France for a week befinning April5. It is a reward trip for the top salespeople in his company, so the week is pre-planned for us staying in Monte Carlo. They do have daily excursions, a shopping trip in Milan, etc… but we have never been to Europe before and want to extend the trip. We have NO idea where to begin. We can only extend the trip by a week, and definitely want to see Paris, and Italy if possible. What do you think is a time effective way to see the best of the best? We love to shop and eat:) Thank you!!! We are really excited to explore!!!

 

    Marlo,

    Wow! That sounds amazing. Monte Carlo, as you no doubt know, is one small neighborhood in Monaco, which is tiny itself. You’ll be able to explore all of Monaco in a day or so, which means you’ll want to move on as soon as you can. One tricky thing is that Nice, which is about 20 minutes by train from Monaco, has fairly slow train connections to most places. You can take a train from Nice to Paris in 5 hours 44 minutes, but from Nice to Venice it’s a bit over 7 hours (from Monaco it’s still a bit over 7 hours). Still, I like your idea of seeing Paris and at least something in Italy.

    My suggestion would be to head right from Monaco to Paris by train, changing in Nice, and spend 3 or maybe 4 nights there. Then it will be best to fly to Italy. With the remaining 3 or 4 days I would fly into Rome and spend my time there. Florence and Venice are the other members of Italy’s “Big 3” but with only 3 or 4 days you don’t have enough time to enjoy more than just one city so I would choose Rome. In fact, I would do 4 nights in Paris and 3 nights in Rome and then fly home from there. Rome itself is obviously one of the world’s great cities and tourist destinations, but the Vatican is there as well and it’s worth a day on its own. Paris and Rome both have excellent shopping and eating. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Laura says:

Thanks Roger, for your quick reply. I like your ideas. I suspect this trip will pave the way for future trips, so there will be plenty of time to revisit places as well as try new ones. Best, Laura

 
Gabriel says:

Hi Roger,

First of all, I have to admit that this website has been very useful to me. However, I think I still need your advices for a trip I am planning for summer 2018. I will be doing an internship in Spain near Valencia for 5 weeks until mid August. I would like to stay 2 weeks in Europe before flying back to America. In the same way, I am probably going to buy separate flights since I don’t actually know from which airport I am going to fly back.

I have never been to Europe but the countries that caught my attention the most are France, Italy, UK and Switzerland. I am aware I will not be able to go to every single one of them, but if I had to choose among all the countries in Europe, I would choose those ones for a first trip.

Therefore, I hope you can help me with my trip.

Have a good one

Sincerely,

Gabriel

 

    Gabriel,

    I’m happy that this has helped and I will try to help you with this, although maybe not as much as you hoped. If you have two weeks in Europe after Valencia I would try to choose 4 or 5 total cities (rather than countries), and it’s best if they are close together and can be reached by train in 5 hours or less. I’d highly suggest Paris and London, and you can do those in 3 or 4 days each. You can also take the Eurostar train between them in about two hours.

    For your other week you could spend 1 day in Venice, 3 days in Florence, and 3 days in Rome. That is the best and fastest trip to Italy that covers the best cities. You could fly between Rome and Paris or London, or you could fly from Paris or London to Venice. If you would rather go to Switzerland you might have a scan of my article on where to go in Switzerland on a short trip. Once you start thinking in terms of cities rather than countries, it should become more clear. I’ll be happy to help more if you need it. -Roger

     
Nancy says:

Thanks so Much Roger for a very detailed input to my plans. I am working around your suggestions and also looking at itenerary, costs, hotel and train bookings. I think I may come back to you on how best to do the eurorail bookings, once I have my destinations and dates in place. Thanks for such a quick reply. I have already gone thru multiple links on your website. Its really very well put together. Thanks a ton… Nancy

 
Nancy Nagwekar says:

Dear Roger, Thanks so much for your inputs on my planned trip.

Keeping in mind what you have suggested, this is what I was hoping to do

Arrive at Paris
3/4 nights at Paris
Then – option 1 – Paris – Luxemborg – Cologne – Amsterdam – Brussles – Bruges. – about 12 days between these cities.
Option 2 – drop cologne or luxemborg or both
(This part of the trip, preferably by train – what do you suggest)

From Either Bruges or any port in Benelux, can I do a Overnight FERRY to UK. If yes, which port is advised to depart from, and arrive, keeping in mind I will have to do immigration to UK.

In UK, we are thinking of doing a more extensive trip – about 12 days, so we dont have to go back to UK again. (its a pain just getting UK visa, and too expensive for even visa) My must do’s are
London – 3 nights
Belfast – 2/3 nights – my kids want to do studio tour of Pain hall Studios
Edinburg – 2 nights
York / lake dist – 1 night
Other places we would like to visit are –
Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, Stonehenge, Bath, Liverpool
What would you suggest we should definetely do from this, and what should we drop?
Also what would be best way to get around – specially if we must do Belfast?
In Some of the iteneraries for UK, I saw a round trip kind of thing –
starting from London – Bath – Dublin – Belfast – Edinburgh – York – London.

If we could do something like that, what would be best way to get around?

ALSO WHILE AT UK – IF POSSIBLE we would like to do the following
(a) see a play on Broadway
(b) see a football match – preferably Arsenal club match
Can you give any pointers how to go about tickets, and what you would suggest for above.

From London, we can either fly back to Mumbai, or take the Eurostar to Paris to flyback (basically depending upon the cost of flight)

I believe we need to do probably one or two more trips to Europe. So saving Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Greece, as well as scandinavian, Nordic, Eastern European regions for later trips

Looking forward for your valuable comments. Thanks so much.

 

    Nancy,

    I’ll try to address each question in order.

    I would save Luxembourg and Cologne for another trip, especially as I strongly recommend 3 nights in almost any city you visit. But actually, I have mixed feelings about Brussels because outside of the interesting historical center, it’s pretty dull and it’s built for government employees and business travelers. So you might actually stop for a night in Luxembourg City (it’s small) and then two nights in Cologne, and then just spend a few hours in Brussels on your way to Bruges for the night.

    I’ve taken those overnight ferries between Netherlands and England before, and it seems that they still run from Hook of Holland to Norwich. In fact, you can take them all the way from Amsterdam to London and they include the bus or train on both ends. The problem with them is that they take about 13 hours and they aren’t that cheap. The base fare is just for a normal seat on the overnight ferry, and if you want a bed in a cabin it’s a lot more. Now that you can take the Eurostar train from Brussels to London in a bit over 2 hours, taking the ferry is less appealing. If you buy your Eurostar ticket at least a few weeks in advance it will probably be about the same price or maybe cheaper.

    I haven’t made it to Belfast yet so I’m not much help, but I do know it’s not one of the UK’s top tourist towns. And of course you’d have to fly or take a ferry there and back as well. Here are my recommendations for where to go in England, Scotland, and Wales. On such a short trip I wouldn’t recommend Stonehenge unless you did a day trip from London that also included Bath. Stonehenge is interesting, but it takes a whole day to see it, so it’s not a good use of your limited time. I would also say that Oxford and Cambridge might be good day trips from London, but not worth spending a night in either. I found the Lake District to be a bit of a dud as well. It’s a pleasant place to spend a few days if you are stuck in London or Manchester most of the time, but on a trip like this there isn’t much to see.

    It’s easy to see a Broadway play in London, and there they call the district the “West End”. There are dozens of theaters within walking distance of each other, and you can get half price tickets in Leicester Square on the day of the show for some of the ones with remaining tickets. You could also see a show in Edinburgh, but with far fewer options.

    Getting a ticket for a Premiere League game is difficult unless you arrange it way in advance. Especially for a popular team like Arsenal, all of the games are sold out well in advance and you even need to be a member to buy a ticket. You could get a ticket from an agency, but it would cost a LOT. If you can see Paris on this trip I think it would be worth it. Paris is amazing and since it’s only a bit over 2 hours from London on the Eurostar, it’s very easy to reach. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Trisha says:

Roger,

Thank you very much for the wealth of knowledge you have poured into this site, I have very much appreciated reading through your answers to the above posts. I was hoping you could help me as well. I am planning a 2 week trip with my 12 and 13 year old kiddos. While I have previously been to many countries in Europe, this will be their first time and I want to make the trip memorable while at the same time, not too overwhelming. We will be flying from FL (U.S) and although I wish money where of little concern, I am trying to plan the most economical trip possible. Of course my son wants to visit London and my daughter Paris so I’m not sure we are off to a great start on that goal :). I would appreciate any recommendations you might have and we are planning the trip for either the end of May 2018 or if it’s better, March 2019.

Thank you again!

Sincerely,
Trisha

 

    Trisha,

    I’ll be happy to try to help, though I’m a bit unclear on what. It’s true that London and Paris are fairly expensive, but in my opinion they are still worth it and I’d rather stay in a more remote 2-star hotel in either of those cities instead of a central 4-star hotel in Sofia, Belgrade, or Riga. I actually wrote an article about visiting Europe’s 5 great cities before focusing on the cheaper ones. That said, I’ve traveled on a budget for all my life and I know that you can’t just go anywhere and expect someone else to pay the credit card bill when you get home.

    So I would still focus on London and Paris for the first stops since this is your children’s first trip. You could do those in about 3 or 4 days each, and of course fewer days would be a bit cheaper. With the remaining 6 to 8 days I’d say you have two really good options that are also reasonably priced. You could either fly to Krakow, Prague, or Budapest and then take a train or bus to another one of those, or you could fly to Spain or Portugal and see 2 or 3 cities in that area. Lisbon is wonderful and really good value, while Spain is a bit more expensive but not much.

    I suppose another option would be to explore more of England and France. As you might know, everywhere else in Britain is cheaper than London, and especially now with the decent exchange rate, it’s good value. You could go to York and Edinburgh, for example. And in France you could go to any number of smaller towns a few hours by train from Paris and your daily costs would be much lower while still having a fantastic time. I’m happy to help with more information if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Anna says:

Hello, first time traveller here. I would like to seek for your comments. My husband and I are planning to go for a Europe tour specifically France, Switzerland, Italy, Amsterdam, Germany and Austria for 2 weeks. Is it possible? We would like to visit more of nature and historical places plus the biggest tulip garden. Would you be able to give us good itineraries and guide for the trip. Thanks so much

 

    Anna,

    Visiting 5 countries and one additional city in two weeks is technically possible, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. When you check out of one hotel and move to another city and check into a hotel there, it will take most of the middle of a day, so if you do that every other day you’ll be spending half your trip on trains and lugging your bags to and from train stations, and only half actually sightseeing. My strong recommendation is to plan 3 nights in each city you stop in. If you want to see nature as in national parks and that sort of thing, Europe is pretty light on them, although if you mean views such as the Alps then Switzerland is your best bet.

    If you have only two weeks I would suggest trying to get your list down to 5 cities and trying to choose cities that are easy to reach from others on your list. Paris is an excellent city for first-time Europe visits and I would recommend 3 nights there. If you want to go to Italy the fastest visit I would recommend would be 1 night in Venice, 2 nights in Florence (although 3 nights is better), and 3 nights in Rome. If you want to just fly into Rome for 3 nights and then fly somewhere else you could do that, but those other cities are almost too wonderful to miss, especially since you’d already be 90 to 120 minutes from them by train when you are in Rome. Have a scan of my article on where to go in Switzerland on a short visit. You could take a train from Paris to Interlaken and spend 3 days there for a very efficient visit with the main highlights.

    The famous tulip fields are in the Netherlands and you can visit them from Amsterdam on a day trip, but the tulip season only lasts about 3 weeks, starting in mid April. In Austria your main choices are the important and grand capital city of Vienna, and Salzburg, which is much smaller with a gorgeous location at the base of the Alps. As for Germany, there are many great choices and you could start with a scan of my article on where to go in Germany. Berlin is the most interesting city for most people, but there are many other choices.

    So again, if you only have two weeks then you have to pare down your list to about 5 cities rather than countries. Once you do that it will be much easier to organize and I’ll be happy to help you if you need it. -Roger

     
Jiane says:

Hi Roger,

Many thanks on your very helpful tips for those of us planning to visit Europe. As for my case, I just wanted to get your inputs on which would be the best way to spend our 16D (including midday arrival and late night departure) in September. I will be travelling with my husband and our 1yr old son. I’ve been to a couple of places there before but it will be my husband’s first Europe trip. These are our options:

Option 1: London(6n)-Paris(6n)-Amsterdam(3n) [fly in and out of Paris]

Option 2:
London (4n)-Paris(3n)-Venice(1n)-Florence(3)-Rome(4n) [fly in in London and out from Rome]

I’m leaning towards the 2nd option as I haven’t been to Italy, however, I was thinking if this would be too much given that we would be travelling with an infant. If we were to push through with this, is it worth still visiting Venice or just spend it in Florence instead?

Thanks and appreciate your thoughts.

Regards,
Jiane

 

    Jiane,

    I would definitely try for Option 2. I’ve lived in London and Amsterdam, and I’ve visited Paris quite a few times, but still I think a 3 or 4-day visit is optimal. In my experience, we each have a number of things we want to see and do in each city we visit, and it’s usually pretty easy to do all of the top things on our lists in 2 or 3 days of sightseeing. By the time Day 5 or 6 rolls around, we’ve seen it all and end up doing things that aren’t really that interesting, or doing nothing at all. And of course Italy is as wonderful as those other cities.

    And I would keep Venice on the list just as you have it. Venice is the kind of place that everyone should see at least once with their own eyes, and fortunately you can appreciate it in about 24 hours.

    Traveling with an infant will never be easy, but as you may remember from your previous Europe trips, the place is very well organized for parents. On any intercity train you take there will be room for a stroller and there is almost always an oversized bathroom with a changing table and that sort of thing. A majority of people who live in all of these cities don’t have their own cars, so family travel on intercity trains is very normal. Most people who ask for advice on trips like this are trying to see 6 cities in 7 or 8 days, and that is pretty much impossible. But your plans are both very well considered so either one would be great. I still vote for including Italy though. -Roger

     
Jiane says:

Thanks Roger, appreciate your quick and insightful revert. I’ll reach out again once we have ironed out our plans. Thanks again!

 
Laura G says:

Hi Roger,

Regarding your advice below, and continuing. (March 2 to 27 this year)
This is my itinerary, I liked your advice and am taking it:
Mon arrive London
Sat, Sun and Monday London
Tuesday Train to York
Wednesday afternoon, train to Edinburgh
Thurs Edinburgh, evening flight to Amsterdam
Sat and Sun Amsterdam
Mon morning train to Paris
Tues, Wed, and Thurs Paris
Fri morning train to Interlaken
Sat Interlaken
Sun morning train to Milan (spend afternoon) then evening train to Venice
Mon Afternoon train to Florence
Tues Florence
Wed Afternoon train to Cinque Terre
Thurs Cinque Terre to Siena
Fri Siena to Rome
Sat, Sun, Mon Rome
Tues March 27 Flight home Rome to Newark

A few questions:
1) With 1.5 days in Interlaken do you think there is time enough (or would be a good use of my limited time here) to do the Jungfraujoch? Or is that too much train time with the next day being more train rides to Milan/Venice? I’ll be traveling light with one backpack, so I’d like to do things in Interlaken without back-TRACKING, if possible. (Schlithorn) I’d like to sleep in Gimmelwald or Murren.
2) In Italy I’d like to see Venice, Florence, Siena, Cinque Terre and no less than 3 full days in Rome. (with possible day trips from Rome)
Online, I see lots of opinions on doing these cities with 8 days or 9 days. Most of the advice says skip Cinque Terre or make it a day trip. I’d like to sleep there if possible. Other advice says stay more nights in one city (such as Siena or Florence) and then do day trips to the other places by bus or train. Rather than moving to different cities for only one night. If it rains, I read that Cinque Terre is not as good, since hiking is a main draw. So, I’d probably avoid it if there was a lot of rain.

Instead of the itinerary above, would it be efficient to go from Interlaken to Milan, to Cinque Terre, stay overnight there? Then do the other cities? Would it be efficient to do Milan/Cinque Terre, then Siena, Florence and Venice. And then take the long train (or a flight) down to Rome?

I’m open to all possibilities and or skipping some of the above it is just too ambitious.

I appreciate your time and advice very much,
Kind regards,
Laura

 

    Laura,

    I’m glad I was able to help and this version looks very well organized with nonstop highlights.

    One nice thing about Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn is that you can buy a ticket on the spot for the same price as if you bought it in advance, and that is the best way to do it as well. As you may have read elsewhere, those high peaks can be in the clouds or fog or rain any time of the year, and going to the top under those conditions is pointless. Often it’s clear in the morning and cloudy in the afternoon, although sometimes the other way around. So you can decide what you want to do once you get there and are certain to make a great choice. From Lauterbrunnen it takes about 6 hours up and down for Jungfraujoch with time at the top, and about 4 hours to do Schilthorn. So as long as it’s clear when you want to go, you can decide which you are more in the mood for. If you are sleeping in Gimmelwald or Murren (both highly recommended) then Schilthorn is obviously even more efficient because the peak is only about 50 minutes up the same mountain from Murren.

    If you want to spend one night in Cinque Terre I would make it in Vernazza, which is by far the most photogenic town. During summer those towns have become insanely crowded so many visitors complain that it’s not worth it, but if you go in March you won’t have many other tourists to deal with, so it might be fun and worthwhile. If you went straight from Milan you could get to Vernazza in a bit over 3 hours, with a change of trains in Monterosso. Then after hiking and looking around a bit you could head to Florence or one of the other towns. During summer I don’t think it would be worth it, but in March as long as it’s not raining it could be nice.

    You can even make your mind up once you get to Italy and see the weather forecast. For the international long distance trains (Interlaken to Milan, for example), the fares get higher the longer you wait to buy, but for most of those trains in Italy there won’t be much difference. For example, the train that runs through Cinque Terre is a local train and it’s the same price no matter when you buy. And the trains from La Spezia to Lucca or Pisa are suburban trains that are always fairly cheap. It’s really only the high-speed trains between major cities (Venice to Florence to Rome) where you can save by buying early.

    As long as you pack light enough then changing cities every day or two isn’t a big deal, especially in Italy where the train trips are all fairly short. In other words, there isn’t much to lose by keeping it open and deciding how you feel as the trip unfolds. In March you’ll also have an easy time finding hotel rooms, even on the same day. I prefer to lock in hotel rooms as soon as I’m sure of my schedule, and I don’t recommend shopping for hotels on foot once you arrive, but you can make plans as you go otherwise. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Susan says:

Roger, you are such a nice person to be helping all of us plan our trips! I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate all the answers you’ve given people!

In Sep/Oct 2019, my hubby and I are hoping to travel for about a month or so, taking in London, Scotland, France, and maybe Germany or Italy, with a brief stopover in Iceland . We don’t need 4 star hotels, just something clean.

Do you think it’s reasonable for me to budget around $300/night total cost, not including air fare? Which locations will be the most/least expensive? If this is too low, what do you think we should plan to spend?

Also, do they have something like AirBNBs that can be used to keep the cost down?

Thanks so much!
Susan

 

    Susan,

    I enjoy helping people plan trips for some reason. As for planning a budget, please have a scan of my article called Europe 3-star traveler index. Right now it’s still the 2017 edition, but I will update it to the 2018 edition within the next week or so. The US Dollar has weakened about 10% since last year, but still the order of the cities should be about the same. The dollar amount for each of the 56 cities represents the typical cost per day in that city for each person based on traveling as a pair and staying in 3-star hotels. In other words, if you double the amount and add about 10% if you are using USDs, it should give you a pretty good estimate of daily costs for a couple in that city.

    Based on that you’ll see that an average of US$300 per day for a couple will work, although it would be cutting it close if you focused only on the most expensive cities such as London, Paris, and Amsterdam. The more cities from higher up on the list that you spend time in, the lower your average cost for the whole trip will be.

    Not only do the have something like airbnb in Europe, they have actual airbnbs. However, the many rental apartments available aren’t automatically cheaper than hotels. For one thing, the majority of airbnbs (and other apartments) will have somewhat remote locations, and the apartments in the center of the tourist areas will often be very expensive. So it’s worth looking into the apartments, and that’s especially true if you are planning on cooking some of your own meals. But in general I find that the cheapest option is usually a normal hotel with a decent location, especially when you take time and transportation costs into account. In other words, if you find a cheap apartment on the edge of town that requires an hour each way on the bus to get to the sights you’ve come to see, then it’s not really a great deal. Often you can see all the main sights in two days if you stay in a very central location, where it might take three days to see them all if you are staying in the suburbs.

    I’m happy to answer any other questions you have, so let me know. -Roger

     
Laura Gruninger says:

Thanks again Roger. I packed last night, with 2+ weeks to go. Tough decisions but I’d rather not carry more than I can handle. I’d better not shop or pick up much along the way either.
Do you recommend convent or monastery stays over hostels or low cost hotels?
best
Laura

Roger Wade says:
February 8, 2018 at 7:46 pm
Laura,
I’m glad I was able to help and this version looks very well organized with nonstop highlights.
One nice thing about Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn is that you can buy a ticket on the spot for the same price as if you bought it in advance, and that is the best way to do it as well. As you may have read elsewhere, those high peaks can be in the clouds or fog or rain any time of the year, and going to the top under those conditions is pointless. Often it’s clear in the morning and cloudy in the afternoon, although sometimes the other way around. So you can decide what you want to do once you get there and are certain to make a great choice. From Lauterbrunnen it takes about 6 hours up and down for Jungfraujoch with time at the top, and about 4 hours to do Schilthorn. So as long as it’s clear when you want to go, you can decide which you are more in the mood for. If you are sleeping in Gimmelwald or Murren (both highly recommended) then Schilthorn is obviously even more efficient because the peak is only about 50 minutes up the same mountain from Murren.
If you want to spend one night in Cinque Terre I would make it in Vernazza, which is by far the most photogenic town. During summer those towns have become insanely crowded so many visitors complain that it’s not worth it, but if you go in March you won’t have many other tourists to deal with, so it might be fun and worthwhile. If you went straight from Milan you could get to Vernazza in a bit over 3 hours, with a change of trains in Monterosso. Then after hiking and looking around a bit you could head to Florence or one of the other towns. During summer I don’t think it would be worth it, but in March as long as it’s not raining it could be nice.
You can even make your mind up once you get to Italy and see the weather forecast. For the international long distance trains (Interlaken to Milan, for example), the fares get higher the longer you wait to buy, but for most of those trains in Italy there won’t be much difference. For example, the train that runs through Cinque Terre is a local train and it’s the same price no matter when you buy. And the trains from La Spezia to Lucca or Pisa are suburban trains that are always fairly cheap. It’s really only the high-speed trains between major cities (Venice to Florence to Rome) where you can save by buying early.
As long as you pack light enough then changing cities every day or two isn’t a big deal, especially in Italy where the train trips are all fairly short. In other words, there isn’t much to lose by keeping it open and deciding how you feel as the trip unfolds. In March you’ll also have an easy time finding hotel rooms, even on the same day. I prefer to lock in hotel rooms as soon as I’m sure of my schedule, and I don’t recommend shopping for hotels on foot once you arrive, but you can make plans as you go otherwise. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

 

    Laura,

    I’ve never stayed in a convent or monastery, although I have read about them. They sound like they could be a great experience if you are up for the vibe and rules that come along with them. Most of the ones that I’ve heard of also tend to have slightly remote locations, although there probably are some in central cities. If they sound interesting to you I think they would be fun. But purely as a way of saving a few dollars compared to a hostel, I’m not sure it would be worth it. Have a wonderful trip. -Roger

     
Christine says:

Hi Roger,

My husband and I are starting to plan our honeymoon but struggling on where to go. We are planning to travel 2-3 weeks during the summer. Originally, he wanted to go to Ireland, and I wanted to go to Italy. Due to distance and expenses we realize we cannot do both so we are expanding our options. I was thinking maybe Portugal to Madrid to Barcelona?

Overall, we want a mix of the cultures. We want to experience city life with museums but also rural areas with hiking. We are also big foodies and want to find good food (and wine).

Do you have some suggestions for us?

Thank you,
Christine

 

    Christine,

    First off, I don’t think the idea of doing both Ireland and Italy is too crazy. The simplest way to do that would be to find cheap flights into Dublin or Shannon Airports and then rent a car for a week from there. Or if you land in Dublin you could spend a day or two there first and then rent a car on your way out of town. Ireland is best enjoyed in a rental car (or by train) seeing the small towns and castles and gorgeous scenery, rather than spending too much time in Dublin. Then you could take a cheap flight from Dublin or Shannon to Rome and spend 3 days there before taking a train to Florence for 3 days or so and then to Venice for a day or two (Venice is small and crowded) and then flying from there back to Ireland and then home. A week in Ireland and 7 to 10 days in Italy would make a wonderful vacation without being too hurried.

    However, I think Lisbon to Madrid to Barcelona would also be fantastic. Each of those cities is a top-notch destination with plenty of things to see and do nearby. The one small hitch is that the only train connecting Lisbon and Madrid is an overnight train, so flying is a better choice for most people. Portugal has great food and wine (especially if you like Port). Personally, I’m not a big fan of most of the food in Spain, at least compared to other southern European countries, but there are excellent restaurants in all the cities and you’ll no doubt find things that are delicious and interesting. The Portugal and Spain version would be a bit cheaper as well, as both countries are a bit cheaper than Ireland and Italy, and getting around is pretty affordable as well.

    Another popular option would be to fly into Paris and spend up to a week in France before crossing into Italy for another 7 to 10 days. I guess I don’t quite understand your limitations. I’ll be happy to help if you have specific questions about any of this. I think with 2 to 3 weeks you could go almost anywhere, and even do two different countries without spending a fortune. -Roger

     
Nancy says:

Hi Roger

Once again you gave me perfect information, on everything I wanted to know. Your insight into every little detail is really appreciable and admirable. I am building my itinerary keeping in mind advice you have given me, as well as on this website.

One question I was having was – we plan to arrive on the Easter weekend. Probably 29th March. We have a choice between London or Paris to fly into. Being Easter weekend, will many of attractions be closed that weekend? If yes, we will end up loosing 3 days. What would you suggest?

Thanks
Nancy

 

    Nancy,

    I’m so happy to hear that my information has helped. As for Easter, it really shouldn’t be an issue in either city. Believe it or not, most of the famous attractions that you’ll probably want to see are open every day of the year, except perhaps Christmas Day. Italy (unsurprisingly) makes a bigger deal about Easter Week, and Spain does as well, but in England and France it’s just another holiday weekend when some people are off work and the attractions are sometimes more crowded than normal. Of course any church or cathedral might have special services that restrict tourist visits, but probably just on Easter Sunday.

    Let me know if you have any other questions and I’ll try to help you with them. -Roger

     
Sarim says:

Hello sir

I would like to do a trip from Canada to Europe for my honeymoon.

We were planning on Italy (Venice,Rome,Florence) and Spain (Barcelona)

How would we travel and do it in 2 weeks?

 

    Sarim,

    With two weeks you have plenty of time for that trip. For the Italy part it’s easiest to fly into Rome and spend 3 nights there, and then take the short train ride to Florence for 3 nights, and then another train ride to Venice for one or two nights. From Venice it’s best to fly to Barcelona because the train takes a full day and costs much more. Sometimes you can find cheaper fares from Treviso Airport, which is also close to Venice.

    I recommend 3 nights in Barcelona, but you could spend more as it’s a large city with plenty to see. If you only stay 3 nights you could then take a high-speed train in a bit over two hours to Madrid and spend your last three nights there. Barcelona and Madrid are both fantastic cities that are very different from each other, so seeing both is ideal. You could then fly home from Madrid, or from Barcelona if you skip Madrid.

    In many cases it’s more expensive to fly into one city and out of another and in that case it would probably be best to first fly into Barcelona (or Madrid) and then take a cheap flight from there straight to Rome to start your holiday. If you buy well in advance it will be fairly cheap, and then you’ll end your trip in the city you are already flying home from. As always, let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Liza says:

It’s been fun reading all the advice you provide. I am taking my two teenagers on a lifetime trip to Europe we’ve been talking about a backpacking trip since they were little so the time has come where my son is getting ready to start college in the fall and we are going for 14 days Landing in Paris in late June to July. He definitely wants to do Italy and we’re not sure what else it would be fun to get in one town in Germany and maybe even Amsterdam I’m not sure that’s going to work out however because my kids would like to see the sites in Paris of course. My son has asked to stay at a coastal town in Italy. We of course are interested in Rome and Venice. Any suggestions on a good coastal town town? Thank you in advance for your help

 

    Liza,

    If you’ve got two weeks you can do most of what is on your list, but maybe not all of it. If you land in Paris you should spend at least 3 days there, or perhaps even 4 days, but especially if you land in the morning then 3 days should be enough. As great as the train service is in Europe, it’s still best to fly to Italy, so it’s probably best to save that for your final week. I would then take the high-speed train from Paris to Amsterdam, which takes a bit over 3 hours. I’d recommend 3 nights in Amsterdam as well. If you included Amsterdam it would be a bit tough to also include a city in Germany, although it could be done. In my opinion the most interesting German city is Berlin and I would spend at least three days there. You could conceivably take a train from Amsterdam to Cologne for a taste of Germany. Cologne is an interesting city with a famous cathedral and an interesting historic area, and you can see the highlights in about a day.

    But it’s probably best to fly from Amsterdam to Venice (or nearby Treviso) and start your Italy portion. You can enjoy a visit to Venice in about 24 hours as long as you stay in the main island. Then you can take a 90-minute train ride to Florence for 3 days and then a 2-hour train ride to Rome for your final 3 days. That is the fastest trip to Italy I recommend. The best Italian tourist towns on the coast are south of Rome, including Sorrento, Positano, and Amalfi, and I don’t think you’ll have time to visit one of those. But you should have time to visit Livorno or one of the other coastal towns near Florence while you are there. And Rome is even closer to the coast, although none of the towns near there are tourist hubs for foreigners. And of course, any town that actually has a beach (as opposed to cliffs) will be packed in July and very expensive as well. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Liez says:

Hi Roger,
Thank you for a really awesome,value adding website!
We are planning a 2 week trip in September and would like to see Italy, France and Switzerland at the very least. Barcelona if possible?
Is it best to do a bus tour or could we go it alone? Cities to see would have to be Paris, Rome, Venice, Interlaken ans Barcelona.
First trip and super excited so your help will be greatly appreciated

 

    Liez,

    I’m glad you find this helpful. You should definitely plan this trip on your own and plan on mostly taking trains rather than buses. Trains between these cities in Europe go almost twice as fast a buses and they are far more comfortable as well, with better scenery. If you only have two weeks I would save Barcelona for another trip. Unfortunately it’s out of the way for this, and it would be too much of a rush.

    I would start in Paris and spend 3 or 4 nights there. Then take the train to Interlaken and spend 3 days there. Then take the gorgeous train ride from Interlaken to Venice (with a change in Milan) and spend 1 or 2 nights there. Then take the 2-hour train ride to Florence and spend 2 or 3 nights there. I know Florence wasn’t on your list, but it’s one of the “Big 3” in Italy for a reason and many people find it the most interesting and pleasant of Italy’s tourist cities. It’s the heart of Tuscany and so the food there is usually better than anywhere else in Italy. Then take the 90-minute train ride to Rome for your last 3 nights. From Rome hopefully you can book a flight all the way home, but you can also book a cheap flight back to Paris and then return on your round-trip flight from there. The one thing to be aware of is that most of the cheaper flights from Rome to Paris will fly into Orly Airport, and your flight home is probably going to be out of Charles de Gaulle. Getting between the airports takes time and isn’t too cheap, so it’s probably best to fly from Rome to CDG and then home.

    Barcelona is really wonderful, but so is Madrid and many other places in Spain. Hopefully you’ll get the travel bug and want to explore that country more fully in the near future. Those train tickets I mention will be fairly cheap if you buy them at least two months or so in advance. And getting around by train in those countries is very easy, even if you only speak English. I’m happy to help more so let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

     
Julie says:

Hi! My husband and I are planning our first and maybe only trip to Europe for 9-10 days in June. We think we’d like to go to Rome and Paris. Is this a good plan? I know you recommend just doing Italy but I’m not sure we’re that interested in Florence or Venice? We are definitely on a budget. We don’t ven know where to begin!!!

 

    Julie,

    You could definitely spend 9 or 10 days in Paris and Rome and you wouldn’t get bored, but I would consider adding at least one other city. Normally on trips like this we will arrive in a city and then go through our list of places and things we want to see, and it’s often surprising how much we can see in only 2 or 3 days. If you are in Paris for 5 days you might find that on your last day you’ve already done everything on your list and you are either just walking around (which can be pleasant) or going to see things that are WAY down on your list. On the other hand, if you also included, say, Venice, you could spend that same day seeing all of the things on the TOP of your Venice list instead of the things on the bottom of your Paris list.

    Either way, it’s most efficient to fly between Paris and Italy. Another thing that is worth mentioning is that Rome is an amazing city but it can also be exhausting. For example, just trying to cross a busy street can be draining because drivers will never stop and waive you across, so you have to kind of just push through. And all of the justifiably famous attractions such as the Coliseum and Vatican Museum are VERY crowded. My normal recommendation is to spend 3 days in Rome, which is enough time to see the main highlights, but not so much time that you start to hate the place. Paris, on the other hand, is much more organized and quite pleasant, even if it is also crowded.

    You might have a quick scan of another article I wrote discussing what I consider to be Europe’s 5 greatest tourist cities. Venice is on there and if I ranked them it might be number one because it’s unlike any other place on earth, AND it’s gorgeous. You can enjoy Venice in only about 24 hours as long as you stay on the main island and take advantage of walking around in the morning and evening when the crowds of day-trippers are gone.

    So if you just want to do Paris and Rome I would recommend 5 days in Paris and 4 days in Rome, with a flight between them. If you also want to include Venice I would do 4 nights in Paris and then a flight to Venice (or nearby Treviso Airport, which can sometimes be cheaper) and then 1 or 2 days in Venice and then 3 or 4 days in Rome. The train from Venice to Rome take about 3.5 hours, with a stop in Florence about halfway in. Florence is another lovely city that is also less chaotic than Rome or Venice, and many people enjoy it the most. So you could even do 3 days in Paris, 1 day in Venice, 2 or 3 days in Florence, and then 3 days in Rome. I’m happy to help with other questions if you have them. -Roger

     
Ramya says:

Hi Roger,
I am planning for 2 weeks trip to Europe with my family from Singapore.
Would like to take a advise from you whether it is good to go on our own or through any travels.
Secondly we would like to cover majorily Switzerland,Italy,Paris and amsterdam. travelling arnd these countries by trains is it possible.
So would like to have a proper schedule of which country to travel first…is it advisable that we first take a flight to Zurich or rome
and then travel to other by train…
and then to paris and tnd lastly amsterdam..
please suggest
thanks

 

    Ramya,

    If you are asking whether you should book this yourself or book a tour, I would book it yourself for sure. Getting between these cities on your own will be easy for anyone from Singapore, and all of the important signs are in English in all of those places.

    That is a lot to see in two weeks, but it could be done if you don’t mind spending almost every other day going between cities. The most efficient way of doing it would be to fly into Rome and spend 3 nights there, and then take the train to Florence for 2 or 3 nights, followed by a train to Venice for 1 night. Then you can take a train from Venice to Interlaken to see the highlights in 2 or 3 days. From there you can take a train to Paris for 3 nights and then a train to Amsterdam for 3 nights. As you can see, the number of nights I recommend do add up to more than two weeks, so you’d have to cut a couple days if you couldn’t add a couple days to your overall trip.

    Trains are definitely the way to go and many of those rides you’ll be taking are quite scenic. The further in advance you buy the train tickets the cheaper they will be. I’m happy to help with more information if you need it. -Roger

     
Nawal says:

Hi Roger, At salzburg can we see any snow laden peaks like the one at Schilthorn or Jungfrau ?

 

    Nawal,

    Unfortunately, there are no high peaks near Salzburg like those others. The city of Salzburg itself is just gorgeous and part of that is because it’s in the foothills of the Alps and there is a lovely fortress overlooking the historic center of town, but there are no dramatic Alpine views like those others in the area. -Roger

     
Fiona says:

Hi Roger, thanks for the amazing article.
I am planning for honeymoon to europe in Nov , around 20 days. we are from myanmar and probably will disembark from Singapore. Must see destination is spain (for la liga match), portugal, rome, venice and paris. and of course other places.. too many, I can’t really choose. I would like to get your expert knowledge and idea for iteniery. thanks in advance and looking forward.

 

    Fiona,

    Congratulations in advance. That should also be a wonderful trip. As you’ve probably seen in the article, I strongly suggest spending 3 nights in almost any city you visit, because going from a hotel in one city to a hotel in another city will take up a good part of your day, and you don’t want to do that every other day. So with 20 days or so I would recommend 7 cities. Venice is small enough to enjoy in a day or so if you are in a hurry, but almost every other city that you’ll want to stop in is large enough that having two full sightseeing days will be ideal.

    You definitely want to visit Paris, and the fastest Italy visit that I would recommend is 3 nights in Rome, 3 nights in Florence, and 1 night in Venice. That is 10 days right there, so you’ve got about 10 more days for Spain and possibly Portugal. My guess is that you probably want to stop in Barcelona for a few days to visit Camp Nou, and if you do that be sure to get your tickets as early as possible. In those famous European stadiums like that it’s almost impossible to just buy a ticket once you get there, even for a place as large as that one. Spain in November will be lovely because it’s still a bit warm, where even Italy will be pretty chilly by then. The shortest visit to Spain I recommend is 3 nights in Madrid and 3 nights in Barcelona. If you did that then you’d be up to 16 days already, and you’d have 4 days or so left to either visit Lisbon (I wouldn’t go anywhere else in Portugal unless you had more time), or elsewhere in Spain.

    One challenge is that the only train between Madrid and Lisbon goes overnight, and it’s not much fun so flying is better. On the other hand, you could take a high-speed train from Madrid to Grenada or Seville or the commuter train from Madrid to Toledo, or a fast train from Barcelona to Valencia. You could do Seville and Grenada in two nights each if you wanted because those are more compact.

    One way to do it would be to fly into Paris and then take the train to Barcelona and then to Madrid and elsewhere in Spain. And then fly to Venice from there and then take the train down to Florence and to Rome for your final stop. Those are my best recommendations and I’ll be happy to help more if you have questions. -Roger

     
Janice says:

Dear Roger,

First of all, I hope you know that you are an excellent person. Thank you so much for such in depth articles; they’re very helpful. When I found your website, my anxiety for planning for my two week trip to Europe was drastically reduced. Thank you so much!

Based on Itinerary 3 (and other inclusions) on this article, I have worked out the following itinerary for our trip in July:

3D2N Paris -> Brussels
2D1N Brussels -> Amsterdam
2D1N Amsterdam -> Venice
2D1N Venice -> Florence
3D2N Florence -> Rome
3D2N Rome -> Barcelona
3D2N Barcelona

Can you please let me know:
1. Is it a reasonable amount of time to spend in each location?
2. Do the travel times between each city make sense? Should they be in different orders?
3. Any other recommendations for honeymooners who are going on their first trip to Europe ever?

Thank you in advance for your reply.

Janice

 

    Janice,

    That is nice of you to say, and I’m happy to help. I would recommend spending 3 nights in each city you visit, although Venice is small enough (and so crowded) that 1 or 2 nights is enough. Most of your train rides are about two hours, and that helps a bit because it means you can get from your hotel in one city to the hotel in the next city in about 4 hours, which still leaves some sightseeing time on that day. But your flight from Amsterdam to Venice will take probably 6 or 7 hours from one hotel to the next, and by the time you arrive in Venice you’ll be pretty tired and it’ll be late afternoon. If you go on this schedule you’d have to leave Venice the next morning so you wouldn’t have time to see much. It’s really better just to think of each of your stops as a number of nights, because each time you switch cities you’ll lose a good chunk of the day. And based on your totals you have 18 days and only 11 nights.

    If you are locked into 11 days then I would skip Brussels and save Barcelona for a future trip. Brussels is kind of a dud anyway compared to the others, and that flight from Rome to Barcelona will also take most of your day when you count airport transportation and security and all that. So I’d do Paris for 3 nights then Amsterdam for 3 nights and then Venice for one night and Florence for two nights and Rome for 3 nights.

    Again, your route is quite efficient and the train trips are all around two hours or so, except for the flight from Amsterdam to Venice and the flight from Rome to Barcelona.

    Especially since this is your first trip to Europe AND your honeymoon I would definitely try to go more slowly as a suggest. Taking trains from one city to another in Europe is fairly easy even if you only speak English, but it’s a big hassle to keep checking in and out of hotels and having to hustle back and forth to train stations and airports. The reason I recommend 3 nights so strongly is that gives you two full sightseeing days in each city, which is enough time to see all of the best highlights. If you spend only 1 or 2 days in each city you will literally feel like you spent half your honeymoon packing and unpacking and riding trains and planes and going back and forth to train stations and airports. I’m happy to help more if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Shefali says:

Hi Roger,
Thank you for the amazing website. We are planning a trip to Europe in mid to late June for a week. We will be travelling with two kids, aged 5 and 8. We are thinking of paris and Amsterdam (one week) or rome, Florence and venice (one week). This will be our first trip to Europe, and we would like our kids to have a good experience as well. Do you have any preferences regarding which one of the cities would be better with kids. Also do you think paris and Amsterdam is doable in one week. Thanks again

 

    Shefali,

    You are welcome. You could definitely do either of the itineraries you mentioned. Paris for 4 nights and then a 3-hour train ride to Amsterdam for 3 more nights is perfect. Or you could do Rome for 3 nights and then Florence for 3 nights and then one night in Venice. That is the classic first-time to Italy itinerary.

    My guess is that your kids are still too young to really appreciate the cultures in these places, but definitely old enough to enjoy the sights and activities and they will remember this trip their whole lives. I was 4 years old on my first Europe trip with my family and 8 years old for my second, and they were the greatest experiences of my childhood.

    All of those cities should be interesting to kids because there are unusual things to see and experience in all of them. Amsterdam has its canals and Paris has the Seine River and interesting buildings and statues everywhere you look.

    Honestly I think Paris and Amsterdam OR Italy will be wonderful, and I don’t have a strong preference to push you to one or the other. And they are very easy to get between on the high-speed trains as well. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Tamie says:

Hi, Thank you for the article. My husband and I are going to Europe in July for the 1st time. We have 2 weeks. Landing in London. Spending 4 nights there then 3 nights in Paris. We plan to venture out from there. Do you recommend getting the Eurorail pass?
thank you
Tamie

 

    Tamie,

    I’ve written a LOT about whether to get a Eurail Pass and most likely it won’t be good value for you. First off, to get from London to Paris you have to take the Eurostar train, which isn’t part of the Eurail system (although pass holders can get a 25% discount if you buy from the same place). Then once you leave Paris you’ll only have a week left, and in that time you probably don’t want to visit more than maybe 3 total cities. Eurail Passes generally start at 5 travel days and go up from there, and many trips within France require you to buy an expensive seat reservation, so rail passes aren’t great value WITHIN France in general.

    First off, I would buy the Eurostar tickets as soon as possible to get the best price. I would also decide which other places you want to visit and then buy train tickets soon for those as well. Train tickets between big cities in Europe go on sale 3 or 4 months out at low prices and the prices go up as more seats are sold. So it’s true that buying tickets on travel day is usually very expensive. A rail pass is a good way to get around that, but only on longer trips.

    From Paris you could get to Amsterdam in a bit over 3 hours and from there to Berlin in a bit over 5 hours. Or you could go from Paris to Barcelona in 6 hours and then to Madrid in two hours from there. Or you might fly from Paris to Venice and then after one night there you could take a train to Florence for 3 nights and then to Rome for 3 nights. In any of those cases it’s best to buy your tickets at least two months in advance if you can, especially for July, which is a busy month in that area. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Janice says:

Thank you for the detailed reply. You bring up really good points. I showed this to my partner, and we decided to to do 3 nights in Paris, 2 nights in Amsterdam, and 3 nights in Rome.

For the rest of it though, my partner is thinking of making it into a really long road trip. For example, from Amsterdam down to Luxemburg, Zurich, and then Venice, or something like that.

Do you think it will be relatively easy? Do you have recommendations for cross country car rentals, or good places to stay for trips like this?

Thanks again!

 

    Janice,

    Renting a car to get around Europe can be great if you are planning to visit wine regions and small towns and natural sights, but to get between big cities a car will be more of a hindrance than a help. Fuel is very expensive but the main problem is the parking. All of those cities were designed and built long before the car, so parking is very expensive and often hard to find the closer to the city center you get. You have to stay out in the suburbs in order to find hotels with free parking, and if you stay there you then have to take public transportation for maybe an hour to get into the area with the sights, or you can drive (which will be confusing) and then pay maybe €20 per hour to park in that area.

    Trains, on the other hand, are very easy and they go everywhere you want to visit. As someone who grew up in the US I wasn’t used to train travel like that, but once I tried it in Europe I love it and I find it far preferable to driving. Sorry this probably wasn’t the answer you were looking for. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Betsy says:

We are planning a graduation trip for our son. He is a 4-year French studies student and would like to spend the majority of the 14 days in France, however, my husband and I have never been to Europe and would love to see Salzburg and some of Switzerland if possible. How would you arrange the trip to get the most out of each area and the most time in France?

 

    Betsy,

    If this is your first trip to Europe I would definitely start with 3 or 4 nights in Paris itself, as it really does live up to the hype in my opinion. If you wanted to visit Salzburg I would stay at least two nights and hopefully three. For Switzerland you can see the highlights in the Interlaken area in about 3 days. If you did both of those you could get around by train and still have 8 or 9 days in France. Salzburg and Paris are pretty distant from each other, so flying back might be a better idea than taking the train both directions.

    There are many really wonderful parts of France in the northeast of the country that are between Paris and Interlaken, so hopefully you can find some things that interest you in that region. If you also wanted to go south to the Nice area, you’d probably want to fly even more. I’m happy to help with specific questions if you have them, and I hope this helped at least a bit. -Roger

     
Vennetta says:

Hello Roger,
First I want to say thank you for sharing your knowledge of travel. I will be traveling to Amsterdam in June for 11 days. I was thinking about visiting Amsterdam, Paris, and Italy. I would like to take the train if possible. I don’t know which part of Italy I would like to visit. Do you have any suggestions? I also tried to look into the trains in Europe. I was confused looking at it for the first time tonight. I will look in the next few days, I was advised to purchase my train tickets as soon as possible. Please help!
Your suggestions are greatly needed.
Thank you in advance,
Vennetta

 

    Vennetta,

    In 11 days you’d have to move pretty fast to add Italy to this trip, but it would be very slow if you didn’t add at least one other place. My normal recommendation is to spend 3 nights in each city that you visit, although Venice is small enough (and so crowded) that one or two days there is enough. Paris is so big and wonderful that 4 nights is even better. So if you did 3 nights in Amsterdam and only 3 nights in Paris, that would give you 5 more nights.

    In Italy the “Big 3” tourist cities are Rome, Florence, and Venice. It’s hard to visit all three in 5 days so I would do Rome for 3 days and either Venice or Florence for the remainder. Here is an article I wrote about France and Italy itineraries that might help a bit more. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Janice says:

Thanks Roger, I expected as much about the car rentals. I also read the other articles you have on this website, and will be booking on the places to stay that you recommended, that really helps our planning.

Re the Amsterdam to Venice leg of our journey, do you think it is feasible to go by train, and stop at major cities along the way, even if just to spend an hour or two at places like Luxembourg, Zurich, Milan (or any other city/stopover that you can recommend). Just to get a coffee in each place, sort of like an amazing race type of thing 🙂 Has it been done? Are there even places near enough to the stations to do this? Does it make sense even??

By the way, if you’re ever in Singapore, or have need for any info about this place, just email me, and I only hope I can be as helpful to you as you have been to us.

 

    Janice,

    Thanks for the offer. I’ve been to Singapore a few times and I love the place, but I have no plans to head back in the next year or so.

    The problem with Amsterdam to Venice by train is that the fastest combination of trains takes about 14.5 hours, and that’s including 3 or 4 changes of train where you only have 10 to 30 minutes in a station. If you left the train station for an hour or two it would mean the journey would need to include one overnight segment, so it would end up taking around 24 total hours. It could be done and I’m sure some people do something like this every day, but it’s probably mostly people who are afraid to fly or something like that. I’ve taken countless trains around Europe and for me it’s about the 7 hour mark when riding on the train goes from pleasurable to being a grind. So 14 or 24 hours would feel endless.

    I’ve taken a handful of night trains and I’m not a big fan of those either. You can read the highlights in my article about night trains in Europe.

    On the other hand, if you had enough time you could, say, take a train from Amsterdam to Salzburg or Interlaken and the following day (or two days later) take another train from there to Venice, which would give you a daytime view of the awesome scenery of passing through the Alps. As always, let me know if you have any other questions. I love trips like this and am happy to help more. -Roger

     
Talla says:

Hi Roger,

I am planning to go to Europe for two weeks this April. I would like to ask for your advice regarding the planning. I have a friend in Germany that will be accompanying me (I may stop in Berlin). I am including three itineraries (sorry and thank you!). I wanted to keep Amsterdam towards the end of the trip as much as possible so I can go to Keukenhof and hopefully catch the tulips blossom. Please let me know what you think!

4/1. Arrive to Berlin (arrive at 1pm) – sleep in Berlin
4/2. Berlin – sleep in Berlin
4/3. Berlin – sleep in Berlin
4/4. To Prague – sleep in Prague
4/5. Prague – sleep in Prague
4/6. To Paris (arrive at 9am by plane) – sleep in Paris
4/7. Paris – sleep in Paris
4/8. Paris – sleep in Paris
4/9. To Amsterdam (by train, arrive at 11am)– sleep in Amsterdam
4/10. Amsterdam – sleep in Amsterdam
4/11. To Rome (by plane, arrive at 9am)
4/12. Rome – sleep in Rome
4/13. Rome – sleep in Rome
4/14. Fly home

——

4/1. Arrive to Rome at 6pm – sleep in Rome
4/2. Rome – sleep in Rome
4/3. Rome – sleep in Rome
4/4. To Florence (by train. Arrive at 9am)– sleep in Florence
4/5. Florence – sleep in Florence
4/6. To Venice (by train, arrive at 10am)– sleep in Venice
4/7. To Paris (by plane, arrive at 8am) – sleep in Paris
4/8. Paris – sleep in Paris
4/9. Paris – Sleep in Paris
4/10. Paris – sleep in Paris
4/11. To Amsterdam (by train, arrive at 11am)– sleep in Amsterdam
4/12. Amsterdam – sleep in Amsterdam
4/13. Amsterdam – sleep in Amsterdam
4/14. Fly home

——

4/1. Arrive to Berlin (at 1pm) – sleep in Berlin
4/2. Berlin – sleep in Berlin
4/3. Berlin – sleep in Berlin
4/4. To Paris (arrive at 9am by plane) – sleep in Paris
4/5. Paris – sleep in Paris
4/6. Paris – sleep in Paris
4/7. To Amsterdam (by train, arrive at 11am)– sleep in Amsterdam
4/8. Amsterdam – sleep in Amsterdam
4/9. To Florence (by plane, arrive at 3pm) – sleep in Florence
4/10. Florence – sleep in Florence
4/11. To Rome – sleep in Rome
4/12. Rome – sleep in Rome
4/13. Rome – sleep in Rome
4/14. fly home

 

    Talla,

    You have clearly done your research and all three itineraries look like they were done by a pro. I’m sure you’d love any of them and I don’t have any major suggestions to change anything in any of them. So it really comes down to which group of cities interests you most. If this is your first trip to Europe I think you’d get the most thrills out of #2 because those are all the most interesting cities and the ones that stand out the most. Let me know if you have any other questions and have a wonderful trip. -Roger

     
Mars says:

This is our first time to Europe. We are planning to visit Italy (Rome, Florence, Venice & Milan), London & Paris for 2 weeks in summer (preferably July). Is it doable for 2 weeks ?

Is it worth to visit Milan ? Not sure whether to add Amsterdam to the list. Are there any other cities worth visiting ? How many nights for each city ?

How to travel from Rome to London and from London to Paris ? By plane or train ?

 

    Mars,

    My recommendation is to spend 3 nights in pretty much every city you visit, although Venice can be done in about 24 hours because it is small, crowded, and expensive. I would skip Milan on this trip, especially since you’ll already be rushing. Milan isn’t really much of a tourist city, and it’s not very “Italian” compared to the others. I don’t think you’ll have time for Amsterdam unless you eliminate another city. In fact, you might even stay 4 nights in London or Paris because both of those are so large and packed with top sights.

    From Rome to London you’ll want to fly. But from London to Paris you’ll want to take the Eurostar train through the Channel Tunnel. It takes a bit over two hours. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Maggie says:

Hi Roger,

I have read many of your comments and love your suggestions. I am planning a two week trip to Europe after my college graduation the end of May.

I am planning to start in Munich, say there for a few nights, then travel to Salzburg for 2 nights. I then have 8 days and am not sure where to go next, hoping for some suggestions! I’m having trouble balancing out seeing as much as I can, while enjoying the trip and not going overboard with travel.

I would appreciate if you could share some ideas!

Thank you!
Maggie

 

    Maggie,

    My recommendation is to spend 3 nights in just about any city that you visit. Salzburg is small enough to enjoy in two nights if you are in a hurry, but three nights would be better. From Salzburg your best choices are Vienna, which is only 2 hours 15 minutes away on the high-speed train, or you could go to Cesky Krumlov, which is about three hours from Salzburg on a shuttle, or Prague, which is about 5.5 hours by train from Salzburg, or 3 hours by bus from Cesky Krumlov or 4 hours by train from Vienna. If you have time I would recommend all of those cities. Cesky Krumlov is a charming small village (and also quite cheap), which is a nice contrast from the largest cities such as Prague or Vienna.

    Vienna is loaded with great sights, although it’s not one of my favorites partly because it’s very quiet at night unless you are going to the opera or a classical performance.

    Or from Salzburg you could take a train down to Venice in about 5.5 hours and then go from there to Florence and Rome for the classic Italy Big 3. Assuming you want to travel on the ground rather than flying, I’d say those are your best choices by far. I’m happy to answer other questions on this if you have them, and I hope this helps. -Roger

     
Vikram says:

Hi Roger,

I am from New Delhi, India and am really quite amazed to read all your posts and advice to everyone. You are doing a great job..thanks.

As others, I am also planning a 2 weeks’ trip to Europe in Aug, 2018 with my wife and my 9 year old daughter. We are first timers to EU and I am choosing to travel on my own. This is what I have in my mind as of now –

day 1) Delhi London flight landing heathrow at 1500 hrs. I plan to take the heathrow express to London city and hope to use the late evening around London.

days 2 & 3) London and surroundings and late evening of day 3 take the 2.5 hours train to Paris. Night stay at Paris.
days 4 & 5) Paris sight seeing and end of day 5 leave for Brussels by train – 2 hours – night stay at Brussels
day 6) – Brussels – day trip, evening train – 2.5 hours – night stay at Amsterdam
day 7) Amsterdam – day trip, again late evening train – 5 hours
day 8) Frankfurt – day trip again, late evening train – 3 hours
day 9) Munich – late evening train 5 hours
days 10, 11& 12) Zurich / Switzerland, last day train to Rome – 5 hours
days 13 & 14) Rome
day 15 departure to Delhi from Rome 1400hrs

Do you think the above is possible? though we believe that we have some stamina to do these train travels, or am I dreaming? I have checked on the internet and find that most of these cities are 2, 4 or 5 hours of train journey and I plan to pre book and use EUrail. Please suggest if this is even possible – I haven’t done any bookings as yet and am open to changes.

Thanks
Gopal Ganatra

 

    Gopal,

    The plan you have in mind is definitely possible, but I don’t really think it would be all that enjoyable. It’s true that many of those train rides are relatively short, though you also have to consider the amount of time from when you check out of one hotel until you check into the next hotel. Even with a 3-hour train ride that is going to be at least 5 hours or possibly more if you aren’t staying near the train station. Most people are also fairly tired after train journeys like that, so immediately putting your luggage into the hotel and racing over to a museum or sight isn’t so easy to do. As I say so often, I highly recommend staying 3 nights in almost any city you visit because that gives you two full sightseeing days followed by one travel day.

    Another thing to consider is how worthwhile each city is. Frankfurt is famous for its busy airport and being home to most German banks, but there are almost no sights of interest, especially compared to Berlin or Cologne or even a small town such as Rothenburg ob der Tauber. So I would eliminate Frankfurt and probably Brussels as well, as it’s mostly a city built for business travelers and government workers. As for Switzerland I would avoid Zurich for the same reasons and it’s also incredibly expensive, but Interlaken and Lucerne are wonderful so you might consider visiting one or both of those instead. Have a look at my article on where to go in Switzerland for more details.

    It’s a bit like someone flying into Delhi and spending 2 days there and then half a day in Agra and then one day in Varanasi and then one day in Pushkar and then flying to Mumbai for two days and then one day in Goa. That person would be seeing many places but they wouldn’t have enough time in each one to really enjoy the visit.

    One more point is that going from one city to the next can be expensive so it will drive up the overall cost of your trip. In 15 days I would recommend London, Paris, Amsterdam and then perhaps a flight to Italy to see Venice for one day (it’s small), Florence for 2 nights, and then Rome for 3 nights. Or you could do London, Paris, Amsterdam, and then Munich and Interlaken. It would cut way down on the cost of transportation and it would give you enough time to see the famous things you’ve come all that way to see. I’m happy to help more as you are planning so let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

     
Will says:

Roger, I’m a first time traveler and I am looking to take a week after graduation. That said I don’t have to hold it to that week. I would love to manage my budget well but that’s not my main focus. I just want to experience other cultures but I am not great with any of my languages besides English at this point.

I would like to spend some time at a beach and have looked at places like Croatia. After that I am still very undecided. I know you recommend Spain above but I am really at a loss on what I want to do past a few days at the beach. Any additional recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

thanks,
Will

 

    Will,

    First off, you can have a meaningful and enjoyable visit anywhere in Europe speaking only English, although some places are slightly more challenging than others. Since this is your first trip to Europe I would probably skip any real beach time, except perhaps for one day in Barcelona if you go there. It sounds like you’d be going in late May or maybe early June, and that is a really nice time to go because the weather will be warm (but not too hot) and yet the biggest crowds of summer are still a month off. Even still, most beaches in Europe are either lousy (compared to those in the US or Australia etc) or remote or absurdly crowded or sometimes all of those things. Wide and sandy beaches are rare in Europe except for southern Spain and Portugal, and those places don’t have much else to see once you are there. Barcelona, as mentioned, is an exception as it’s a really cool city with plenty to see and it also has a nice strip of sandy beach (that was created around when they hosted the Olympics.

    Croatia is interesting, but I still consider it more of a second-tier destination and probably better for someone who is getting bored with Paris, London, Berlin, Italy, and Spain. In other words, if this is your first Europe trip I think you should go to 2 or 3 of the classic destinations first. I actually discuss that in my article a few years ago about what I consider to be Europe’s 5 best destinations for first-time visitors. Have a look at that and I’ll be happy to help you plenty more with this as you are making up your mind. Paris and Amsterdam is an excellent trip, or Rome, Florence, and Venice, even as popular as they are. -Roger

     
Morgan says:

Roger,

Really appreciate this website and the insight that you bring. Reading your thoughtful replies to everyone’s questions is just as enlightening as the articles. Thanks so much for your willingness to give your time and knowledge.

I’m from California, and my family of four (two children 12, 13) is planning our first trip to Europe for next summer. We have about 15 days, and we’ve narrowed down the places we’d like to visit.

London (3 nights)
Ireland (3 nights)
Paris (3 nights)
Florence (3 nights)
Venice (1 night)
Cinque Terre (1 night)

I have some questions regarding this itinerary though:
1. I’m not quite sure the best places to visit and stay in Ireland?
2. Is a quick flight the best way to get from London to Ireland?
3. What’s the best order to see these places?
4. Is flying the best way to get from UK to Italy? Or could we take the train and maybe stop for a night or two at someplace along the way?
5. What would tend to be the cheapest city to fly into from California? Planing the trip for June.

My main focus right now is figuring out the most efficient way to travel between home and Europe, and between each city. That way we get to spend as much time as possible enjoying the city. Then I’ll focus on accommodations. I understand that Ireland isn’t usually the top of the list of first time visits to Europe, but my daughters really want to go there.

Thanks so much for your input!
Morgan

 

    Morgan,

    Thank you for the kind words. I enjoy trying to help people with this, and I’m also originally from California (The OC).

    1. Ireland is a tricky one for a short visit. Personally, I find Dublin itself to be a bit disappointing compared to most other major European capitals, but the smaller towns and countryside and castles and whatnot are wonderful. So with only 3 nights you’d probably want to just stay in Dublin (which is definitely interesting), or perhaps fly into Shannon Airport and go to Galway for the three days, which would also be enough time to visit the Cliffs of Moher and even Aran Island. If you have Irish family you might instead want to visit wherever they are from. But if not I think I’d recommend saving Ireland until you have a week or more, and going to Edinburgh instead. Edinburgh is an excellent destination and it can be reached by train from London.

    2. If you do go to Ireland then it’s fastest to fly between one of the London airports and either Dublin or Shannon. The fares are quite low if you book far enough in advance.

    3. It would be most efficient to fly into Ireland and then to London and then take the Eurostar train to Paris and then fly to Italy. It’s unusual that you are skipping Rome, but maybe you’ve been there? If not, I wouldn’t skip it.

    4. The trains that go from France into Italy are still fairly slow, so flying is WAY faster and almost always cheaper as well.

    5. You can often get cheap flights from LA or SFO into Dublin or Shannon. If you do include Ireland you could then fly back there after Italy to board your flight home. It would be more efficient if you could fly into Ireland and then out of Italy, but across the Atlantic it’s hard to find an “open-jaw” fare that is close to the price of a round-trip, so booking one more flight back to Ireland is probably cheaper.

    I’m happy to help more if you are unsure of some things, so feel free to ask other questions. -Roger

     
Morgan says:

Thanks so much for your insight. OMG, I meant to write Rome instead of Paris. So sorry. We want to stay in Rome 3 nights, not Paris. Thanks for your thoughts on Ireland. I think we would want to see the countryside, and less of Dublin, so I will look into Shannon as an option as well. So if we are not going to Paris (because of my typing error) and going to Rome instead, how would you suggest getting from London to Italy?

Thanks! And sorry for my error.
Morgan

 

    Morgan,

    Not a problem, and in this case it’s even more of a shame that you will be missing Paris. You’ll definitely want to fly from London to Italy then. You could either fly into Venice (or nearby Treviso Airport) or fly into Rome, and then fly back to London or Ireland from the other one. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Franca Alonzo says:

Hi Roger!
I was navigating trying to find something like a ¨first time in Europe with teens ideal trip ¨ and I found you, thanks !your blog is super usefull. I´ve traveled to Europe with my husband five or six times but, now we want to do it with our two children of 12 and 15. They are so exited but say that don´t want to go to ¨weird cities¨ (Budapest,Prague, Bruggue…for example…) because this is gonna be their first time there and they would like to visit the ¨most important cities¨ like Madrid (this is a must because they are Real Madrid fans), Paris, Rome and London… We could spend 3 weeks or max 24 days. The main problem for me is that I don´t want to spend days at the airports because of the distances between the countries. What do you think about it ? Do you have any suggestion for me? Our original plan for this year and before we included the children in that trip, was going to two wine regions in France and Italy. Now I know that won´t be nice for them…The time of the year would be middle august to middle September. Thanks in advance and I apologize for my english !

 

    Franca,

    I didn’t realize you were a non-native English speaker until you apologized, so you are doing very well with it. This sounds like a really fun trip and I think I understand what you mean about “weird” cities, although I would say Prague is quite trendy and I wouldn’t put it on that list. And I agree with you about minimizing flights and spending time at airports. Fortunately you could do this trip mostly by train.

    You could fly into London and spend 3 or 4 days there before taking the Eurostar train to Paris for 3 or 4 days. Paris is half empty in mid August, so it’s actually a great time to visit. Most French people are at the beaches or in the countryside until September 1. From Paris you could take a train to Barcelona in 6 hours 27 minutes, which is about the same amount of time it would take you to fly, but it would be FAR more pleasant and even relaxing. After 3 or 4 days in Barcelona you could take a train to Madrid in 2.5 hours. You’d have time to go elsewhere in Spain, and after August you could even head to one of the beach areas near Malaga in the Costa del Sol. From Madrid you’d want to fly to Rome because the trains take a full day and are much more expensive. You could spend a few days in Rome and then a few days in Florence and maybe a day or two in Venice before flying back to London for your flight home. That is the most efficient itinerary for all of those cities with the least amount of flying. As always, let me know if you have any other questions and I’ll be happy to try to help. -Roger

     
Sanjay says:

Hi Roger,
I am planning to use the Euro rail for traveling for 2 weeks using the Benelux-France-Italy-Spain route . Could you please suggest

 

    Sanjay,

    If you are going for two weeks I would recommend choosing 4 or 5 cities to visit in total. I’d recommend Amsterdam and Paris for sure and that would take 6 or 7 days. With the other week I would either go to Italy or Spain, but probably not both. If you tried to visit both countries you’d end up having to spend half of your trip on trains and in train stations, rather than seeing the places you’ve flown in to see. If you choose Spain you could go by train from Paris to Barcelona and then to Madrid. If you choose Italy you could go from Paris to Nice and then to Venice and down to Florence and Rome. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Rick says:

Hi Roger,

I would really appreciate some insight with planning my 21 day Europe trip. My trip starts in Berlin where my friend lives. He will be traveling with me and he is kindly hosting me while in Berlin. We are considering beginning our trip the day following my arrival.

These are the cities of interest:
Rome
Florence
Pisa
Venice
Barcelona
Porto
Lisbon
Prague
Budapest
Amsterdam
Paris
Nice
Swiss Alps (wherever it may be most convenient)

I know those are a lot of cities. That is just a list of cities I am interested in. I know that there is virtually no way for me to visit all of them in 21 days. This is where I need guidance on where to go and what to eliminate. The challenging thing about creating my itinerary is that after the initial 11 days of traveling, my friend has to go back to Berlin for 5 days to attend class. This leaves only 3-4 days after his classes are over for more travel together. I am considering taking some time to see Berlin and Prague on my own when he is in class and possibly even Amsterdam. But I am afraid I would be missing an opportunity to see Paris, Barcelona, and Portugal. I have read a lot of the previous comments and I feel good about the Rome, Florence, and Pisa combination. What do you think? I am really open to suggestions. I need some solid advice on which of the remaining cities are going to be worthwhile and which should be dropped. Probably most importantly, I need help in planning the order of those cities and the most reasonable modes of transportation between them, given the hiccup in the middle of the trip that requires us to potentially go back up north to Berlin.

Thank you so much for this incredibly helpful blog!!

-Rick

 

    Rick,

    I’ll be happy to try to help. If you have 21 days I would suggest trying for 7 total cities or maybe 8 at the most. Berlin and Prague are both fantastic and about 5 hours apart by train, so I would recommend spending 3 days in each of those. I’m not sure how that would work out with your friend. Assuming you have 15 remaining days I would focus the rest of them on the real blockbusters. In my opinion that is Paris, Amsterdam, and Italy. If you did 3 days in Paris and 3 in Amsterdam that would give you 9 days for Italy, which is pretty much ideal. If you think that is too many cities and too little nature you could substitute Interlaken in Switzerland for Amsterdam.

    Neither Berlin nor Prague is close enough to any of the others to take trains to, and honestly that part of Europe is pretty boring from a train window anyway, so getting a cheap flight is better and obviously much faster. You could actually take a train from Berlin to Amsterdam and then to Paris and from there fly to Venice and then by train to Florence and to Rome. I’d recommend seeing Pisa as a day trip from Florence because it’s only an hour away by train and the rest of Pisa is pretty dull compared to all the others.

    The other option would be to fly from Berlin or Prague to Paris and then take a train to Interlaken and then take the gorgeous train ride through the Alps to Venice (with a change in Milan) and then down to Florence and Rome. If you included Barcelona and Portugal it would mean more flights, and in my opinion those are more second-tier cities, even though all of them are wonderful. Nice is nice, but again I’d save it for a future trip. Budapest is very cool but it’s fairly similar to Prague and I’d save it for a future trip as well. Prague is more dramatic and memorable than Budapest. I hope this helps you at least start sorting things out. I’m happy to help more if you have other questions. -Roger

     
Dave says:

Hi Roger
My wife and I want to go to Paris and then on to Germany and then to Italy
In Paris we want to visit all the usual tourist attractions and Germany we are not sure where about to see, but then we want to go to Italy to Rome,Florence,then Venice
Have you got any suggestions the easiest way to travel and what way round would be the best way we are leaving from England we will be going for two weeks will this be enough time to do all we want we are looking to august time
Thanks Dave

 

    Dave,

    As mentioned in the article, I strongly suggest spending 3 nights in nearly any city you visit on a trip like this. The travel days don’t allow for nearly as much sightseeing as we’d hope, so if you only spend two nights in each city it means spending every other day on the road. So start by taking the Eurostar train to Paris for 3 nights. It will be best to finish in Italy so that would be Rome for 3 nights, Florence for 3 nights, and then one night in Venice (because it’s small enough to see in about 24 hours).

    That would leave you four days for Germany and then a flight to Rome. I have an article discussing where to go in Germany and it should be helpful. The most popular destination and my favorite as well is Berlin, but it’s kind of a long way from Paris. So I’d probably save Berlin for a future trip and focus more on the south. The train from Paris to Munich takes about 5.5 hours and there are several other really good options in that area. For example, you could take a train from Paris to Rothenburg ob der Tauber for one night (it’s a small and very charming tourist town) and then a train to Munich for 3 nights before a flight to Rome. Or you could instead go to Fussen to see the Neuschwanstein Castle, or you could do both of those for one day each and then two days in Munich before your flight to Rome.

    Those are my top suggestions and I hope it helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Ravindra says:

Hi Roger,

we have planned our second Europe Trip in mid July,2018 and planning to visit Spain and Portugal. Below is our itinerary.
Barcelona – 3 nights then fly to Porto
Porto – 2 nights then train to Lisbon
Lisbon – 3 nights and fly back home

Is the above plan doable or too hectic ? I know mid July will be bit hot in Barcelona but is it really unbearable ?
Also can you please suggest how effectively we can utilize time at each places as we have very short time.
From Lisbon is there any worth day trip apart from Sintra as we have full 3 days in Lisbon and 3 days in Barcelona.

In Porto we have 1.5 days and planning to do Douro valley day trip, is there any other good places to see in 1.5 days?

Thanks,

 

    Ravindra,

    Your plan looks very good and not too hectic. Barcelona will be hot, but it’s on the coast so you can get some breeze when you are in open areas. And it’s so popular in summer that most businesses and hotels have air conditioning, so you should be just fine.

    I prefer not to give people attraction itineraries because tastes and budgets are very different. But in Barcelona I think most of the top attractions are worthwhile and obvious. The architecture is the most distinctive thing about Barcelona, so see Sagrada Familia and at least some of the other Gaudi buildings, perhaps along with Park Guell. The hop-on, hop-off bus covers all of the main attractions including most of the best architectural examples, so it’s a good way to see a lot in a few hours. In fact, you might want to look into the Barcelona Pass.

    The day trip to Sinta is very worthwhile and will take most of that day, so you will already be busy in Lisbon. The castles in Lisbon are worth a look as well. I haven’t made it to Porto yet, but if you’ve only got 1.5 days and you’ve already got a day trip, you’ll barely have enough time to see the city center. Have a wonderful trip. -Roger

     
Ankita says:

Hi Robert,

It’s a very helpful article and I’m very glad to see that you’re helping people with their personal itineraries too.

I’m an Indian student out on my first international trip to the UK and Europe. The trip begins of first may and ends on first June. In this time 14th to 25th I’m supposed to be in Brighton. I have friends in Eindhoven who I want to visit during the 4th-6th may weekend. So I have been contemplating to leave London on 2nd May and stop at a city before I reach Eindhoven. Spend the weekend in Eindhoven and visit cologne and strutgart maybe and then proceed to Paris. Return from Paris to London and then go to Brighton. After 25th I was thinking of going to Canterbury and dudrledoor and bath before taking my return flight from London.

Can you please advise me regarding how practical this trip plan is. I have applied for both my visas but haven’t made my bookings on stay or train/bus travel once I’m in Europe. I have my India to England to and fro flights booked. But that’s about all. Since I’m a student budget is a huge issue. I figured that I’m not too fond of the colonial history since my country was a colony for many years. I’d rather spend my days marvelling at the temperate zone natural phenomena. I’ve spent my entire life living in a tropical country I’d much rather track down the different migratory birds and sunbathing sharks or whales etc. I know budget constraints don’t go too well with those aspirations ( that’s what my research so far tells me) I’m really writing to you for a reality check.

 

    Ankita,

    This trip sounds really interesting and Brighton is one of my favorite smaller cities in England. As an American, my country hasn’t been a colony for almost 240 years so I can’t really identify with your feelings on that, although I do understand them to some degree.

    You could take the Eurostar train from London to Brussels and then hop a one-hour suburban train to Bruges before going to Eindhoven a couple days later. Cologne and Stuttgart are both interesting, but I consider them 2nd tier cities even for Germany. If you could instead go from Einhoven to Berlin (via Amsterdam) I think you’d enjoy it more, and Munich is also very worthwhile.

    As for England, you might have a scan of my article on where to go in England, Scotland, and Wales. Bath is really lovely, and as I discuss in that article you might instead stay in Bristol because it’s very close, has cheaper accommodations, and is also an interesting city. You could even base yourself there and do day trips to Durdle Door and some other sights.

    One important thing regarding your budget is that train tickets first go on sale pretty cheap and then the price goes up as more seats are sold, so it’s important to buy your tickets as early as possible. That’s true for the Eurostar and most city to city trains and all international trains. But it’s also true in England on most longer rides. London to Brighton is on a commuter line so it’s always fairly cheap, but something like London to Bath could be £25 if you buy a few weeks in advance and £90 if you buy it on travel day. Whatever you do, make sure you research the ticket prices and buy the ones that fluctuate like this as early as you can. I’m happy to help if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Carolina says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks for your insights. Im from Dominican Republic, an i’m planning my first trip to Europe with my husband for 10 nights on may. The best ticket prices from here is flying directly to Brussels, so I’m thinking to take this from a start. I want to plan at least 2 more cities, but it’s possible that i’ll need to return to DR from Brussels… what would you recommend? Paris? London? Amsterdam?

Thank you in advance!

 

    Carolina,

    All of those cities are connected by high-speed train lines, and the even the Brussels Airport is on the main train line, so you don’t even have to go into Brussels itself if you don’t want to. Personally, I find Brussels to be a bit boring after you’ve seen the wonderful area around the main square (Grand Place). My recommendation would be to spend one day in Brussels and the following morning take a train to Amsterdam and spend 3 days there. Then take the new Eurostar train service from Amsterdam to London (a bit under 4 hours) and spend 3 days there. Then take the Eurostar train back to Paris for 3 more days. Then you can take the train from Paris directly to the Brussels Airport (2 hours 10 minutes) for your flight home.

    Brussels does have a charming central area and I’m sure you’ll like it, but if you want to see why I recommend the other three you can read a quick version of that in my article on Europe’s 5 great cities for first-time visitors. You could even skip Brussels for one day and spend that extra day in either Paris or London, unless you really want to see a bit of Brussels. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Zein says:

Hey Roger,

My girlfriend, my girlfriend’s grandparents, and I are planning our first visit in Europe for 3 weeks in May. I’m wondering what’s our best itinerary. We have Eurail pass for 6 days within our trip and we also have a family to stay at in Austria. The best deal we got since we live in Hawai’i would be going to Zurich Airport as it is close to their house in Austria. The plan so far are to visit Switzerland, Italy, France, and Austria. We’re planning to stay in Austria the longest and last. As with Eurail pass, we can use 1 pass as much as we can within a day.

 

    Zein,

    If you’ve got 21 days and it sounds like you’ll spend the last 6 or so of those in Austria, I think I’d do the first 3 days or so in Switzerland and then France and then Italy and then through the Alps to Austria. My article on where to go in Switzerland should help you figure out what to do there. That would then give you about 12 days for France and Italy. My article on where to go in France and Italy should also help.

    One tricky and sometimes unfortunate thing about France is that for the popular intercity trains such as Paris to Nice, they require a mandatory seat reservation that can be expensive. In Italy a seat reservation is usually €10 and includes a drink, but in France they can be €35 for the fast trains. France also has a quota on rail pass seats, so it’s possible to try to get a seat reservation on a train that is only half full and find out that there are no rail-pass seats left. You can usually find another departure if you are doing this in advance, and if you take slower trains the seat reservation is lower or sometimes not required. The point is that you have to do your research on any train within France using a rail pass because there can be some surprises.

    In Italy the train tickets are actually fairly cheap, and especially if you buy well in advance. From Rome to Florence it might be €50 if you buy on travel day, or only €20 if you buy a couple weeks in advance. So with Italy you might want to buy individual tickets and save the rail pass days for Switzerland, the way into France, the way into Italy, and from Italy to Austria. In Switzerland and Austria you generally don’t need a seat reservation, although in some cases you might have to leave after 9:30am for that. It’s confusing. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Yasmine says:

Hi Roger,

I am so happy I came across your blog, you give great information and suggestion with so much patience.
I would appreciate it if you could help me with my trip plan as well. Me and my husband are planning to visit Europe for the first time. We are coming from the US and want to plan a 10~14 days trip in early July. The thing is, I was always fascinated by south of France and Italy for some reason, probably the authenticity and old feeling to it?. So we were thinking to do something in those areas, even though I have very little information about it.
For example, I was thinking we can start from Provence and then make our way to Nice, Genoa and then visit Italy, probably Florence and make our way to Naples and Amalfi. I would have loved to make Rome for Venice but it doesn’t seem possible. Now here are some of my questions:
Do you think these cities would live up to my fairy tale and adventure about them, or should we just stick to big and safe choice like Paris(we are pretty open and haven’t decided yet)?
If we decided to take this trip, what is the best transportation? Is renting a can in France and returning it in Italy going to cost substantial? Are there public transportations like trains?
And I would appreciate any other input and suggestions that come to your mind.

Thank you

 

    Yasmine,

    I’m also happy you found this website. For the most part I strongly recommend staying 3 nights in any city you visit for reasons explained at that link. If you do that it would mean visiting 3 to 5 places in 10 to 14 days. But if you prefer to focus on smaller towns then two nights in each one could work because it doesn’t take long to see the main sights in them. Honestly, I think I understand what you mean by wanting to stay in older and more authentic places, but it’s really the most famous cities where you’ll find that. For the most part the famous cities in France and Italy are at least 1,000 years old, and most coastal communities were small fishing villages until 50 years ago, and there isn’t much visible history in those (unless you go to Greece or Turkey).

    It might also be worth you at least scanning this article I wrote about visiting Europe’s 5 great cities before exploring smaller or cheaper places. Paris, Rome, Florence, and Venice are all amazing, and the sights within Ancient Rome are thousands of years old. I really feel that you’ll get the best introduction to the finer things in Europe by focusing more on those places and then branching out on your next trip. Genoa, for example, isn’t really much of a tourist city and you might struggle to even find people who speak English well enough to help you once you leave your hotel.

    As for transportation, if you did decide to focus on small towns then renting a car can make some sense, but I would still urge you to consider the trains instead. The European train system is amazing, efficient, relaxing, and if you buy tickets in advance it’s pretty cheap as well. Driving in Europe tends to be stressful for first-timers, and parking is notoriously difficult and expensive because they purposely try to limit auto traffic in popular cities. I’m happy to help more when you decide which type of trip you want to do, so feel free to ask more questions if you have them. -Roger

     
Yasmine says:

Roger,

Thank you for your great insights, I had no ideas about the small cities in Europe and mostly pictured them like fairy tale cities in my head, but I totally get what you are saying and I now think it would be best to start with bigger cultural cities to get acquainted with Europe first.

For this ~14 day trip, what would you think about this itinerary? Is it doable? do have any recommendations and advice?

Starting from Nice, making our way to Venice, Florance, Rome, then going to the coats of Naples, Amalfi, and Sorrento, getting back to Rome to fly home?

Again, we are pretty open with the choices, so any suggestions you might have, even for different cities and countries(like doing south of France and Spain, or Portugal and Spain) will be very helpful to us.

 

    Yasmine,

    I should have mentioned that there actually ARE a handful of small European cities that are old and historic, and Venice is actually one of them. But for the most part you’ll get a lot more history and culture in the larger and more famous cities. I think your itinerary looks great and although I wouldn’t recommend skipping Paris, it should work pretty well.

    I’d do 2 or 3 days in Nice and then about 24 hours in Venice (or two days if you prefer) and then 3 days in Florence and 3 days in Rome. Then I’d go base myself in Sorrento to visit Naples, Pompeii, Amalfi, and the Isle of Capri if you have time. Sorrento is a really nice town that is convenient to all of those things. I’d save Spain and Portugal for your next trip. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Yasmine says:

Roger,

Thank you for your reply. Well, how about we just leave France to explore some other time that we can include Paris, and just fly to Milan, from there to Venice and do the rest of the trip as before? In this case we can put more time in exploring Sorrento, Pompeii, Amalfi, and the Isle of Capri and we can also include Cinque Terre, Do you think that’s better?

Also, for the housing, do you think Airbnb in those area works better or we should stick to getting hotels?

Again, thank you for your valuable suggestions and time 🙂

 
Zein says:

Roger,
Thank you for the great insight. Those articles helped a lot, it made our itinerary easier to make. But I still have questions as to what’s the best and affordable place to stay at? Hotel? Hostel? Airbnb? And is there uber/lyft in Europe?

 

    Zein,

    I’m happy to help. The cheapest places to stay are hostels with dorm rooms, but if you don’t like sleeping with 3 to 11 other people you can get good deals on hotel rooms. Generally speaking, hotel rooms in Europe are quite small compared to those in the US, Canada, and Australia. You can look into Airbnbs, but usually if a rental is cheaper than hotels it’s because it has a fairly remote location. Airbnbs that are in the main tourist zone tend to be more expensive than hotel rooms (and much larger as well), so I almost always stay in hotels. Uber is in most European cities, but they’ve been banned from a few of them. Generally it’s pretty easy and cheaper to get around using public transportation for sightseeing. I sometimes use Ubers to and from the train station when I have my bags with me.

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

     
Priya says:

Hi Roger,

I am planning a trip to Europe in May and have a low budget approx 5000 euros. The time I am considering is 2 weeks. I want to visit Paris. Which other country or city do you think I should cover as part of my 1st Europe trip within my budget.

 

    Priya,

    Your budget should be plenty as long as you are a bit frugal when choosing hotels and getting meals. Paris is an excellent idea, and I would also add Italy. You could spend 3 or 4 days in Paris and then take a train down to Nice for 3 days or so to see Nice, Cannes, and Monaco. Then take a train to Venice and spend about 24 hours there. Then take a train to Florence for 3 days and finally a train to Rome for your last 3 days. You could change out Nice for another place, or spend longer in each place and fly from Paris to Venice. That is my top suggestion for a first trip. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Priya says:

Thank you so much Roger. Very helpful.

 
Ness says:

Hi Roger
First off….Fantastic site!
We have 17 days in Europe and arrive in Paris at 10am, where we will stay for 4 nights.
The plan is to end the vacation with 6 nights in Barcelona and fly back to Paris for our return flight home.
We were thinking of taking the train from Paris to Lyon for 3 nights and then from Lyon to Montpellier for 3 nights with a day trip to Nimes and also a day trip to Carcassonne.
From Montpellier to Barcelona and fly back to Paris from Barcelona at the end of our vacation.
Would you suggest different city stops enroute to Barcelona from Paris?
The Montpellier stop seems a waste as we would like to visit Nimes and Carcassonne. (Carcassonne is a high priority for us). Do you have any suggestions to improve this portion of the trip or any suggestions for any of it? seems more like sleeping in Montpellier but spending our time out of it? What do you think?
Thank you in advance for your suggestions – Much appreciated.

 

    Ness,

    Thank you for the kind words. France is challenging for itineraries like this because unlike most other European countries, many of the larger cities aren’t very popular with tourists. Lyon and Marseilles are both examples of very large cities with few sights and not many tourists. In France (after Paris) people tend to flock to the beaches and the small towns and wine regions and that sort of thing.

    I have a big France trip coming up this year or early next, but until then I think you can get better advice elsewhere. The country is so large and filled with sights that I’m not confident enough to help you with these choices. One thing I will say is to buy your train tickets as early as possible for the lowest fares. Sorry I couldn’t be more help. -Roger

     
Purnima says:

Hello Roger
There are five of us in family (including a senior citizen) and we are planning a 2-2.5 week trip to Europe. We are not a big fan of city hopping, and want to make sure we are spending enough time in city to be able to enjoy it and also keeping it relaxed/ slow paced. Can you please advise if the following plan looks good or if you have any suggestions:
1. Switzerland – 5 nights (Zurich,Lucerne, Zurich)
2. Austria – Salzbeg, Vienna – 5 nights
3. Czech – Prague – 3 or 4 nights
4. Hungary – Budapest – 3 or 4 nights
Let us know if this looks good. We were keen to check on Krakow too – but dont want to to too many countries at one go. But let us know if you would ask us to drop one place for another.

 

    Purnima,

    Your plan looks quite good and I think you are on the right track. As far as Switzerland is concerned I would consider skipping Zurich or maybe just one night there and focusing more on Interlaken instead. This article about where to go in Switzerland should explain my point pretty well.

    Five days for Salzburg and Vienna works well because they are close together by train. I prefer Salzburg so I’d spend the three nights there and two nights in Vienna, but Vienna is a very grand and important city so if you want to see the famous palaces then maybe 3 nights there instead. Budapest in 3 or 4 nights sounds great, and same with Prague. Those cities are pretty similar in some ways but different enough that seeing both is preferable. Krakow is another favorite of mine and it’s refreshingly cheap, but it takes quite a bit of time to get there so I think saving it for another trip is wisest. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Sarah says:

Hello! My husband and I are planning a trip to Germany for Oktoberfest and we want to visit a few cities around. We’re setting aside two weeks total which includes flying there and back to the states. We’d like to visit a couple cities in Belgium (Brussels and Bruges) and definitely go to Amsterdam. Not sure which city would be best to fly into, how we should get around or if there are any other cities you think we should go to if time permits. Any thoughts/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

 

    Sarah,

    Oktoberfest in Munich is really fun, but hotels and hostels literally double or triple their normal rates so it’s best to book a place as far in advance as possible to get the best deal. Also, it’s free to get into the fair area with the rides and such, but you need a ticket or reservation to get into any of those huge beer tents. If you just walk up you might have to wait in line for an hour or two to get in, which isn’t very fun. So try to arrange at least one or two tent reservations before you get there.

    If you can get a decent flight into Munich it would obviously be the most convenient. If not you could fly into Berlin because that is another great German highlight that is VERY different from Munich. Frankfurt also has plenty of flights, but the city itself is a dud for tourists so if you fly into there I would take a train right from the airport to Cologne or some other town you want to visit. Have a scan of my article on where to go in Germany for some other ideas. A couple of those smaller towns are fairly close to Munich so those could work well. I’d allow 3 days for Amsterdam and probably 2 or 3 days for Bruges and Brussels combined. I mention this often, but I find Brussels to be kind of dull after you’ve explored the Grand Place (main square) area, so I recommend spending part of a day there and then heading to Bruges for the rest of your time.

    I would think that 3 nights in Munich would be enough to get the feel of the place, but of course you might want to stay longer. The trains in Germany are fast, comfortable, and pretty affordable if you buy the tickets at least a month or so in advance. For your trips involving Munich during Oktoberfest I would buy up to 3 months in advance because most of the crowd is other Germans coming from other towns and the cheaper tickets sell out early. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Rob says:

Hi Roger,

While researching for my upcoming trip to Europe, I found your site and have found it very informative and useful. I am visiting Europe for the first time ever starting in June, and will be spending 4 days in Paris and 4 days in London with my family, then looking to travel onward from there.

I’m currently thinking of spending two to three weeks traveling after this, and was looking to visit Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Venice, Rome, Barcelona, and Madrid in that order. What recommendations would you have for me regarding this? Should I cut one out to ensure I can spend more time in another? Or should I switch one out with another city? And lastly, how long should I plan for in each city? Thanks for your help on this matter.

 

    Rob,

    This sounds like a great trip. I highly recommend staying 3 nights in almost any city you visit, for the reasons mentioned at that link. Venice is a rare exception because it’s small and so crowded that enjoying it for 24 to 48 hours is enough for most people. With that in mind you could do those 7 cities you listed in 19 or 20 total days and it would be quite efficient. You might even add Florence for two nights in between Venice and Rome, which would then give you all of Italy’s “Big 3” tourist destinations.

    Doing it in the order you mentioned would mean flying from Prague to Venice (or nearby Treviso) and from Rome to Barcelona or Madrid, but you can take trains for all the others. The earlier you buy those train tickets the cheaper they will be and the greater the choice of departure times. All of the cities on your list are excellent choices and I wouldn’t skip any of them unless you had to cut it short of 3 weeks. If you DID have to cut it short I would probably save Spain for a future trip. It’s a wonderful country with loads of highlights, and hopefully in the future you could spend two weeks in Spain alone or along with Portugal. I’m happy to help more if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Rob says:

Roger,

Thank you for your feedback, I really appreciate it and it’ll be very helpful regarding trip planning. I’ve been debating visiting Interlaken – specifically Gimmelwald – during this trip in place of one of the cities. I’ve seen that in previous comments you’ve recommended doing this in lieu of Amsterdam. Would you recommend doing this in this case too? And if so, where would you recommend inserting it into my current itinerary order?

 

    Rob,

    As you might expect, it’s hard to compare Amsterdam and Gimmelwald. Amsterdam is one of my favorite European cities and I even lived there for a few months in addition to dozens of visits. It’s beautiful, unpretentious, and really fun. Gimmelwald is a tiny farming village on the side of a mountain above Interlaken and it is one of the most beautiful natural settings I’ve ever seen, especially when you include the lovely traditional farms and livestock. Both of those experiences are ones you’ll never forget, so it’s really a matter of which one sounds like it would work into your trip better. If you are visiting one city after another then the visit to Gimmelwald might be a nice little break in between.

    Personally, I think younger people would appreciate Amsterdam more, and as we get older we probably appreciate Gimmelwald more, especially after we’ve visited more cities and fewer farm villages as time goes on. Based on the other cities you are visiting, you’d have to wedge Switzerland in between Paris and Berlin, and that would require a flight from Zurich to Berlin because the train is so long and expensive. I think you are better off with Amsterdam on this trip, and keep Gimmelwald and Switzerland in general in mind for a future trip. Switzerland is also insanely expensive, even compared to Amsterdam. I hope this helps. -Roger

     
Grace says:

hi Roger,

I enjoyed reading your recommendations and it is helping me a lot with my plans. This will be my second time to visit Europe, our first time was in May 2016 for 21 days covering London, Bruges, Paris and Bergen. The first 3 countries was thru a cruise, we didn’t have any problems with where to go and the arrangements of our itinerary.

This time coming October, we will do it on our own and I kinda nervous what to do and where to go. We are planning a 15 day Europe tour to cover Amsterdam, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Rom and last stop is Paris. Is this feasible and what is the best way to go around?

Thank you for all your help and I would greatly appreciate a reply. Thank you in advance.

Grace

 

    Grace,

    I’m happy to try to help. A cruise is a wonderful way to see a different city each day, but when you are going between cities by train you should really allow 3 days in almost any city you visit. If you allow 3 days in Amsterdam, Rome, and Paris, that leaves you 6 days for Germany, Switzerland, and anywhere else you want to visit in Italy. Your best bet would probably be to save Germany for a future trip. Berlin and Munich are the two top destinations there and they are quite far apart and fairly far from the other places on your list.

    You could fly into Amsterdam and after three days you could fly to Zurich and then take the train from Zurich to Interlaken to spend three glorious days in and near the Alps. After that you could take a train to Venice for 1 day (It’s small and so crowded that one day is a nice stay) and then a train to Florence for two days and then to Rome for three days before a flight to Paris for your final three days.

    That is my best recommendation and it’s all highlights. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Judi says:

Hi Roger – Thanks for all of the great information. My husband and I plan on taking our two young adult children and two of their friends to Europe the last week of July and first week of August. We let the kids decide where they wanted to go and the list they came up with is a stopover of 2 nights in Iceland, Barcelona, Paris, London, and Dublin. Because of the tight schedule we thought it best to just see major city highlights. Our family has been to Europe several times but the two friends traveling with us have not. We’ve seen London and Dublin but not Paris or Barcelona. None of us have seen Iceland. Thoughts? Recommendations? I’m worried it’s just going to be too hectic and we might need to drop a city. Also we’re picking up a large chunk of the tab so need to keep cost in mind too. Hate going at high tourist season but they all have school and work schedules we had to work around.

 

    Judi,

    That is indeed a popular time to travel, but at least you’ll get the best weather of the year. Iceland is amazing and it’s all about the scenery. If I were you I’d rent a car at the airport and skip Reykjavik altogether and drive to Vik or possibly Hofn and then spend the next night in Vik. The southern coast has the most interesting natural sights, and the ones that are outside of the capital area are far less crowded and generally more dramatic as well.

    You’ll obviously have to fly into Ireland and another option would be to fly into Shannon Airport and drive to Galway or some other town. In my opinion Dublin is just okay but the Irish countryside and small towns and castles are magical. Since you’ve been to Dublin before you might just spend 3 or 4 days elsewhere in the country? Then you could fly to London and after 3 or 4 days take the Eurostar to Paris for 3 or 4 days. If you get there after August 1 you’ll find Paris to be partly empty because most of the office workers leave the city for the whole month. August is actually a great time for Paris and nearly everything is still open, but with smaller crowds. You can take a train from Paris to Barcelona in 6.5 hours, and that would be far more pleasant than flying, and it would take about the same amount of time from city center to city center. Barcelona is now one of Europe’s most crowded large cities with tourism, but it’s still very nice and worth a visit. As long as you have at least 3 nights for each of those stops, I think you’ll be fine. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Nimish Shah says:

Hi,
I was looking for some advice regarding a plan we had in mind. We are a family of 4 & have 15 days wanting to travel Germany, Austria & Switzerland.
We have native friends in Germany & Switzerland although we wont be staying with them. I havent really seen itineries anywhere for these 3 countries exclusively. we will be travelling to europe more in the years to come but we want to visit these as a family member would be going to Germany to study next year. Is it wrong for us to plan these 3 countries? will we miss out a better trip? Can these 3 countries still make the time & money worth it?
Would love to have your insight on the matter..

 

    Nimish,

    You can definitely have a wonderful trip to those three countries in 15 days, but of course you’ll be missing quite a bit in that short amount of time. For Switzerland I’d say the shortest worthwhile visit would be 3 days in the Interlaken area, which is discussed in detail in my article on where to go in Switzerland on a short trip. If you add two more days I’d spend those in the Lucerne area.

    As for Austria, the major highlights are Vienna and Salzburg. I normally recommend 3 nights in each of those cities, but if you are in a hurry you could do 2 nights in Salzburg, partly because there are fast trains between them so your transit day will still allow some sightseeing.

    For Germany the biggest draw is Berlin, and I’d do 3 nights there at a minimum. It’s a bit remote from the others, but it’s worthwhile and the trains between the cities are fast in that part of Europe. The second biggest draw in Germany is Munich, which is also very close to Salzburg (about 90 minutes by train). There are quite a few other places to go in Germany to consider and that link should help you figure out what interests you most.

    So as you can see, it’s all a matter of deciding on your priorities and what you for sure want to see and what you are able to save for future visits. As mentioned, train service in that part of Europe is fast and reliable, and tickets are reasonably priced if you buy them at least a month or so in advance. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Shefali says:

HI Roger,
Thank you so much for your earlier reply. We are planning a one week trip to Paris and Amsterdam in mid June. We are travelling with two kids, aged 9 and 5. We were wondering if we could make a trip to Nice and Monaco from Paris instead of going to Amsterdam. Would you recommend that instead of Amsterdam. Also what is the best way to travel to Nice and Monaco from Paris. Would like to know what you think. Thank you again.

 

    Shefali,

    The train from Paris to Amsterdam is about 3 hours 15 minutes and the train from Paris to Nice is a bit under 6 hours. From the Nice train station it takes about 20 minutes to arrive in the Monaco train station, so it makes for a great day-trip (hotels there are insanely expensive). June would be a pretty good month for Nice because it will be nice weather and not totally packed like it gets in July and August. The beach in Nice is smooth rocks so it’s not very nice if you are used to sand, but there are sandy beaches in nearby Cannes and a few other places close by.

    Personally, I think Amsterdam would be way more entertaining for the kids, and it’s actually very easy to avoid the more adult-oriented parts of Amsterdam. Amsterdam is one of the world’s most beautiful cities and it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Nice is nice enough, but it’s more of a place to relax and sit on the beach if you don’t mind the rocks. There are good museums there and excellent food, but I’m not sure how much the kids will appreciate those. However, if you decide to go to Nice I’m sure the kids would have a good time and remember it forever. And Monaco is also an amazing place to see in person at least once. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Shefali says:

Hi Roger, Thank you so much. Truly appreciate it. We will stick to Amsterdam for this trip and maybe do Nice and Monaco another time. Shefali.

 
Sophia says:

Hi Roger, my husband and I went to Paris and Rome a couple years ago, and we loved it very much. We would want to go back to Europe and explore other cities. Which ones would you recommend, now especially we have a 15-month old baby to bring with? There is so much to see and so many countries to visit, would you think we should spend more time exploring other cities in Italy (Venice, Florence) or spend it all in Spain or Germany or other countries? I am thinking of 1-2 weeks for this second trip. Thanks.

 

    Sophia,

    Paris and Rome are both excellent cities for a first trip and I can see why you are anxious to go back. As I mention often, I highly recommend spending 3 nights in each city you visit with only a few exceptions, so where you go really depends on how long you want to stay. If you have only a week I’d probably pick 2 cities and maybe a third for a day trip, but if you have two weeks you could do 5 cities comfortably. Since you’ve done France and Italy I think it might be good to try something different so I think the idea of Spain (Barcelona and Madrid plus whatever else you have time for) could be good, or you could focus on Amsterdam and Berlin and then whatever else you find interesting and have time for. The suggested itineraries in the article above should give you some ideas for cities that group well together. See which one sounds most interesting to you and I’ll be happy to help you work out the details. -Roger

     
Sneha says:

Hi Roger,
If you had to do 1 week in Europe in July which places would you recommend for 1st timers? My top choice was Italy for the monuments, culture and food but it seems it will be too hot in mid July. I am considering paris + london or Paris + amsterdam.

 

    Sneha,

    Italy in mid July could be a scorcher, and most of the top sights are outdoors as well, so I think you might save that for a future visit. London almost never gets very warm and Paris is usually fairly mild in summer as well. I think I’d do just those two if I had a week, but Paris and Amsterdam work well together as a pair and Amsterdam has mild summers as well. So I’d recommend London and Paris and of course you can get between them on the Eurostar train, but Paris and Amsterdam would also be a great choice. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Mo says:

Thank you Roger for your “quick” reply. Can you please advise for 14 days how I should plan to visit Italy and Switzerland. If you can make day to day plan that would be really helpful. Please

Thanks in advance

 
Vijay says:

Hi Roger. First of all thank you very much for youf detailed itinerary. I am planning for 2 weeks in Eastern Europe. I would really appreciate if you could help me with itinerary if I start my journey from Sofia to Bosnia then to Croatia then Slovenia then finally to Budapest , Prague n Kraków.

Is 2 weeks enough to a cover above places.
Does above itinerary is fine ?

Thank you every much in advance for your reply.

 

    Vijay,

    I strongly recommend 3 nights in just about any city you visit, so in 14 days I would try to plan 5 cities. Another challenge you’ll have is that the train service in Bulgaria and Croatia is slow and spotty, so most people get around on long-distance buses. Even if there are trains they only go as fast as cars, so it can take 4 to 8 hours to get between some of those cities. With that in mind you really don’t want to buy spending one day sightseeing and every other day on buses or slow trains.

    You should really choose 5 cities that interest you most rather than countries. My recommendation for Croatia is Split because it’s as beautiful as Dubrovnik but also bigger, cheaper, and easier to reach. Sarajevo is a great stop in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sofia doesn’t have many notable sights, although it is a pleasant place with some interesting Roman ruins. Budapest, Prague, and Krakow are all fantastic, but again, it takes time to get between them all. Once you have 5 cities on your list you can figure out the best route between them, and maybe adjust your selections to minimize travel time and cost. I’m happy to help if you have other questions. -Roger

     
linda says:

is it possible to see Ireland,London,Paris,Brussels,Germany,Amsterdam
in 8 days. coming in from America..what would be the best route to arrive into and return from.

 

    Linda,

    It’s possible to do that if your main goal is to never stop moving and then be able to say you’ve visited those two countries and four cities, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you really want to enjoy your trip. If you have 8 days in Europe I’d focus on 2 or possibly three cities (rather than countries) and hopefully ones that are easy to reach from each other. The quickest version of that I would recommend is fly to London for 3 nights then take the Eurostar train to Paris for 3 nights and then take the fast train to Amsterdam for your last two nights and fly home from there. I hope that helps. -Roger

     
Nawal says:

Hi Rger, I have seen the Alps from Switzerland earlier last summer. I did Schilthorn and Jungfrau both aprat from Mt Titlis. This summer I am gonna be there at Salzburg for three days. Do you recommend THE DACHSTEIN GLACIER ? If yes, can that be completed in a day from Salzburg ?

 

    Nawai,

    I hope you enjoyed Switzerland. I’ve yet to make it to Dachstein Glacier myself, but I’ve read about it and heard good things. It looks like it takes only 90 minutes to reach from Salzburg, so it’s an easy and popular day trip from there. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Terri says:

Roger,

We have someone we would like to visit in Germany, end of July/early August 2019. We have never left the US before, and want to try and utilize the 2 weeks as best possible. We would really like to try and do Ireland and Italy. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Since I will be 50 and it will be my first trip out of the country, I doubt I will get back any time soon. Gotta get the most out of this trip!

 

    Terri,

    Germany, Ireland, and Italy are an unusual combination for one trip, mainly because they share no borders. If you have two weeks I would focus on 5 cities that you want to visit, rather than countries. The shortest Italy trip that I recommend is one night in Venice, three nights in Florence, and three nights in Rome. That is an action-packed week filled with highlights.

    If your friend lives near an airport in Germany you could fly in from Rome and then fly to Ireland. As for Ireland, I think a week there is also a good place to start. Dublin is an interesting city, but it’s really the small towns and castles and natural sights that are what make Ireland so special. So think about which places are your highest priority and I will be happy to help you plan if you have more questions. -Roger

     
Maddie says:

Hi Roger
My husband and i are interested in a two week approx honeymoon in europe. Amsterdam is a must for us. What other places would you suggest we travel to revolving around an Amsterdam visit?
Thanks in advance 🙂

 

    Maddie,

    Amsterdam is amazing and you will love it there. I even lived there for a few months at one point. The best and most obvious places to combine with Amsterdam are Paris (a bit over 3 hours by train) and also London (a bit over 2 hours on the Eurostar train from Paris). You could also go to Berlin, which is about 6 hours away by train, and Prague isn’t too far from Berlin.

    Closer to Amsterdam you can also consider Bruges and Brussels, or even Cologne or Luxembourg City. In two weeks I would plan on 4 or maybe 5 total cities at most, so it’s a matter of which of those appeal to you most. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Carrie says:

Roger, your site is amazing and inspiring. My 22yoa daughter and I want to do a first time 2week trip to Europe in late Sept. She’s listed Ireland, London, Paris, Amsterdam and Switzerland or Belgium as her preferred destinations. She really doesn’t want to let go of Ireland… I’ve read thru your suggestions for cities and amounts of time in each loci but my questions are what would be the best way to include Ireland? Where is the best place to fly into from the US? Which airline do you recommend and between which countries for the most economical result? I think we’ll need to narrow to 4 locis if Ireland is included. Thoughts? And thank you so much for your generous advice.

 

    Carrie,

    If you want to include Ireland it’s probably best to do it first. You could fly into Shannon Airport, which is close to many of the best small towns and sights, or Dublin Airport. It would probably be cheapest to book a round trip from your home into Ireland and then fly from Ireland to your other destinations on European low cost carriers.

    As I’ve mentioned before, Dublin is an interesting city, but I feel that the best of Ireland is the smaller towns and castles and natural sights. So you could spend maybe 2 days in Dublin and then 2 or 3 days in Galway or elsewhere to get a feel of the real Ireland. Then fly to London for 3 nights. You can then take the Eurostar train to Paris for 3 nights and then a train to Amsterdam for 3 nights before flying back to Ireland and then home. That would be the best version of what you have discussed that I can recommend. Buy all of those plane and train tickets as soon as possible for the lowest fares. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Carrie says:

Thank you so much. Are there carriers you could recommend for economical flights?

 

    Carrie,

    As for going across the Atlantic I would choose the cheapest flight on any airline that has flight times that look good to you. All airlines that fly across the Atlantic have fairly good legroom and service. Once in Europe you’ll have more choices of low-cost carriers. Ryanair is based in Ireland and they are my least favorite because the seats are small and they have so many extra fees. EasyJet is one of their main competitors and I like them quite a bit more so I’m willing to pay a bit more to fly them. But you will have other options that should be similar. So I’d avoid Ryanair and take the next cheapest one that has good departure times. -Roger

     
Mo says:

Hi Roger, this is an amazing thing you’re doing here. I was hoping you could help me decide on a few things about my trip, I’m from South Africa and I’m planning on going to Europe for my first trip. I’m thinking Lagos Madrid Ibiza Barcelona Amsterdam Berlin Budapes. Please assist me in in deciding if I should leave any out, how long I should I stay. And where I should fly or use the train. I’m 20. Years old and looking to party a little bit more than touring but a little bit of everything including shopping. Your assistance is immensely appreciated.

 

    Mo,

    I’m glad you find this helpful. All of those cities on your list are worth visiting if you have the time and money. My strong recommendation is to spend 3 days in nearly any place you visit, and that includes all of the ones on your list. One challenge will be that Amsterdam to Berlin is the only one that can be reached easily by train, although you can take a train from Madrid to Barcelona and then a flight from Barcelona to Ibiza and from there to Amsterdam.

    The party scene in all of those places is excellent, although in Ibiza is really only runs from June through mid September and then it starts getting quiet again. The rest are great all year round. If you are going alone I think I would stick to the bigger cities and save Ibiza for another time. It’s almost all big groups of people who come to party together, and there isn’t much of a scene for solo travelers. I’d suggest Madrid to Barcelona to Paris to Amsterdam to Berlin to Prague, which you could all do by train. I’m happy to answer any other questions if you have them. -Roger

     
Cheryl says:

Thank you so much for all this amazing info !!! We are planning our first trip to Europe next summer as a graduation gift to my daughter . I’ve been going back and forth on whether to do a tour or do it ourselves . We want a stress free itinerary !!!! I love your suggestions for itineraries! We will be flying to London and then we aren’t sure ? Will be there 10-14 days . Any new suggestions regarding itineraries would be appreciated !! Thanks again !

 

    Cheryl,

    I’d definitely do it yourself rather than as a tour. Even though it feels daunting and intimidating to plan something like this yourself for the first time, Europe is actually extremely easy to get around on your own. Also, as a tour you’d be lumped with 10 to 40 other people (the cheaper tours have more people on them) and you can only ever go as fast as the slowest person on the tour.

    I think the best first-time itinerary would be London for 3 days and then the Eurostar train for 3 days and then a flight to Venice for a day or two and then a train to Florence for 3 days and a train to Rome for 3 days. That itinerary is pure highlights and contains much of the best of Europe. Think about that as a starting idea and I will be happy to help you change it if you have other preferences or ideas. -Roger

     
Carol Haggerty says:

Roger, I am so excited that I stumbled upon your website. I am reading some of the questions and answers you provided. The summer of 2019 will be one of travel and celebration as I will be graduating from college at the youthful age of 64. I have 3-4 weeks off to travel. I have a friend in Northern Ireland to visit with either on the way over or back and a family member to visit in Sweden and also Slovenia. Along with those specifics I would like to visit Rome, Aix en Provence, Auschwitz, Prague and many other places. I am asking for suggestions for timeline for train purchases etc. i.e. when should I have this itinerary completed in order to be on time with reservations. I would appreciate any suggestions and caveats with my thoughts of where I would like to travel to! Much thanks, Carol Haggerty

 

    Carol,

    That sounds like a wonderful trip and it’s never too soon to start planning if you enjoy the process. As I say so frequently, I strongly recommend 3 nights in just about any place you visit, so the number of places you can stop will be determined by how many total days you have available. Northern Ireland, Sweden, and Slovenia are all obviously very spread apart so you’ll have to fly between all of them and that doesn’t make it any easier. Auschwitz is a fascinating day trip near Krakow, and Krakow itself is very worthwhile for a couple days.

    The challenge I’m seeing with your current plans is that almost none of the places you want to visit are within reasonable train distance from each other. You can fly all over Europe, but it’s much less enjoyable to spend every third day in airports and on planes, as opposed to on trains. So my first suggestion would be to lock in the places you definitely want to visit and then try to find other places to add that are within 400 kilometers or so. Hopefully you can string at least 3 or 4 of those together before you have to fly to another corner of Europe.

    As long as you buy your train tickets at least a month or two in advance you should be getting the cheapest fares, but for flights it’s best to book 3 or more months in advance if you can. I’m happy to help you as you get your itinerary together so feel free to ask more questions. -Roger

     
Teena says:

Hi,
i am travelling to Madrid next week for business for four days. i will be travelling solo. i am a female and would particularly need advise on accommodation that is reasonable( private) like 60 euros max. need your advise and tips on it.
after reading through your answers i am tempted to form an itinerary and need your kind review.
4 nights MADRID – 3 nights BARCELONA. HIGH SPPED TRAIN
BARCELONA- 3 nights PARIS (NIGHT TRAIN OR CHEAP FLIGHT???)
PARIS TO 3 nights INTER LAKEN (TRAIN)
further shall i inlude 2 nights Germany , Munich) or Vienna, Austria or Prague Czech and fly out to Pakistan. Do you think 4000 euros will suffice.
Looking forward to your kind advise

 

    Teena,

    Your plan looks quite good and well thought out. I’d take the train from Barcelona to Paris as long as it’s in the same price range or lower because it’s much more pleasant than flying. There’s a 18:30 departure that gets into Paris at 07:00 the next morning. I’m not a big fan of night trains, but that one looks pretty good. The day trains take only about 6.5 hours and don’t require a change.

    I think your budget should be enough, although I don’t know what a flight to Pakistan costs. As for finding cheaper hotels the best advice I can give you is to check booking.com, as they seem to have the best deals in Europe. Personally, I prefer a smaller and more basic room in a central neighborhood to a larger and more luxurious room on the outskirts, partly because you save a lot of time not having to go back and forth. Just look for hotels with a large number of positive reviews that are in a neighborhood you like and you should be okay. Europe has many small hotel rooms meant for exactly one person and they are often very cheap. I think Munich, Vienna, or Prague would all be great choices for a final stop, and it might matter most how cheap your flight to Pakistan is from each of them. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Shefali says:

Hi Roger,
Thank you so much for your earlier advice. We will be in Paris for 4 days and Amsterdam for 3 nights this June. This is our first trip to Europe. We will be traveling with two kids, 9 and 5 years old. We do want to enjoy our time in Amsterdam but we were wondering if we would be able to do a trip to Geithborne without losing out on the sights in Amsterdam. Would we end up losing out on Amsterdam sights because of the Geithborne trip or is that something we should do another time. And would you be tell us the best way to get to Geithborne from Amsterdam in case we do make the trip. Thank you again.

 

    Shefali,

    I assume you are referring to Giethoorn. I’m not really familiar with it, but it appears to be about two hours from Amsterdam by train and bus. It looks like an interesting place, though at two hours each way (and that’s from the train station) it’s going to take up most of a whole day. You could see 3 or 4 major attractions in Amsterdam in that same time, and Amsterdam is packed with fascinating sights, so I’m not sure it’s worth missing so much for a day trip like that. And the kids might not be too happy with the long trip there and back either. Still, if Giethoorn is a place you’ve always wanted to see then it might be the highlight of the trip. It’s hard for me to say one way or another. It looks like you have to take 2 or 3 short train rides starting from Amsterdam Centraal and then a bus ride to finally reach Giethoorn. Best of luck with whatever you decide. -Roger

     
David says:

Hi Roger, thank you so much for the article. I’m heading to Europe for the first time for 16 days, minus 2 for flight there and back, so 14 total. I’m really considering Paris and Amsterdam, but I’m not sure what else I should see. I’m thinking Paris -> Amsterdam -> Berlin -> back to Canada. I’m not very experienced with multi-city travelling so I hope you could help with some input. I’d like to keep everything Schengen as I need a visa, however.

 

    David,

    With 14 days in Europe I would suggest at least 3 or 4 cities and perhaps even 5 as long as they are easy to reach from one another. On the other hand, if you are fascinated by Paris and Amsterdam and really love the idea of spending a week in each, it could be a great trip because both are large and fascinating cities. But most people on a first trip to Europe like to cover as much ground as possible, and most people try to move too quickly. My advice is to spend 3 or perhaps 4 nights in each city you visit because that allows you time to see all of your top interests and still move fast enough to see quite a few places. For most people, the 4th or 5th day in one city means doing things that were way down your list when you got there.

    Paris and Amsterdam are both excellent choices and only a bit over 3 hours apart by train. Berlin is another great choice and only a bit over 6 hours from Amsterdam by train. Prague is another wonderful option that many people do after Berlin, as it’s only a bit over 4 hours by train. Or you could stay closer to Amsterdam and also spend a couple days in Bruges with a short stop in Brussels. Another option is Munich, which is only about 4 hours from Berlin by high-speed train, and of course all of those are in the Schengen Zone.

    That should give you some good choices. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
David says:

Thanks for the reply! That was helpful. I already booked my flight for in Paris and out Berlin, as well as the train to Amsterdam. I’m looking to book my train/bus from Amsterdam to Berlin and am considering night bus/train. I can’t find any train with bunk beds on raileurope or bahn, and the only option has 2 connections. I’m not sure if busses have beds or if the seats are comfy. Could you give me some recommendations? Also it’d be great if I could get some recommendations on hostels in Amsterdam and Berlin too! I realized I spent wayyy too long deciding on one for Paris. Thank you!

 

    David,

    I’m not a big fan of night trains, and many of them seem to be phasing out in recent years because so few people are booking them. I’m also not seeing any sleeper cars on that route, but the day trains take only a bit over 6 hours. I don’t believe the buses in Europe have sleeper seats like they do in Asia and South America, but some people do sleep on them.

    As for hostels, you’ll find some recommendations on the main pages for Amsterdam and Berlin on this site. Hostels in Amsterdam in particular are quite expensive, but in Berlin they are more reasonably priced. I’m a big fan of the St. Christopher’s chain of hostels because I prefer a bit of a party atmosphere. I’ve stayed in their Amsterdam and Berlin hostels and I can recommend them, but only if you don’t mind the lobby being a busy bar in the evenings. -Roger

     
Chy says:

Hi Roger, thanks for the article and response to questions asked. I would be go on a business trip in the 3rd week of October. My husband will be coming along as we plan to visit some cities in Europe on the 4th week. We are looking forward to cities worthwhile, fun, interesting and not expensive. Business trip ends on the Friday of the 3rd week. We would be coming from Nigeria, visa application is in process.
1. Kindly advise what cities would be best to visit, considering time and cost.
2. Also, train or flights which would best to these cities?
Thanks.

 

    Chy,

    As for which cities to visit you might have a look at our Europe 3-star traveler Index, which lists 56 European cities from cheapest to most expensive. I include my general thoughts on each city in the description so you can see which ones I recommend more than others. Generally speaking, I think Prague, Krakow, Budapest, and Berlin are great cities that are also relatively cheap.

    And I highly recommend getting around by train, although in some cases the buses are cheaper and just as fast and comfortable. It’s best to choose cities that are close enough together to take trains if you can. Flying between European cities is as much of a hassle as flying everywhere else is, and it usually takes an hour or more to get from the city center to an airport as well. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Shefali says:

Hi Roger, Thank you so much. We have decided to stay Amsterdam for the sightseeing especially it being our first visit and with so much to see. Shefali.

 
Gee says:

Hi roger.
I am trying to get my famimy to europe for 3 weeks in January next year. We will be on a budget but as we may never get to do this again i don’t want to scrimp tooo much. We definately want to do london and france but are oprn for other destinations. I have heard that flying in and out of london is tax heavy is that right?
We are 2 adults and 16 and 13 year old. I was thinking 3 to 4 days in each place? Also my husband suffers from chronic gout in his feet so a day of walking has to be followed by a day of easy going type stuff. Would really appreciate your feed back
Cheers gee

 

    Gee,

    I think 3 or 4 days in each place you go is ideal, so if you have 3 weeks I’d choose 6 to 7 total cities at most. The airport taxes for London are much higher than most other destinations in Europe, but the ticket prices can still be good value. When you check ticket prices into various airports the taxes are already added in (at least they should be), so it’s easy to compare one city to another for the cheaper places to land. London is also handy because it’s so easy to get to Paris on the Eurostar train from there.

    Sorry to hear about the gout. One thing that can help is to take those hop-on, hop-off sightseeing buses in each city. Especially on your first visit to a city where you only have a few days, those things are the best way of seeing a lot in a short time, and of course you can stay seated for the whole circuit if you like. I generally prefer to do the whole circuit first, and keep a good seat on top, because getting off and back on can be a hassle and they usually aren’t very efficient for getting around the city. From Paris you could either head north to Amsterdam and then perhaps to Berlin and Prague, or you could go from Paris down to Barcelona or to Italy. I’m happy to help if you have other questions. -Roger

     
Jazmin says:

Hi Roger,

I am planning a trip in April of 2019 to Europe. I would love so help planning it out. We are planning to go to from New York, Rome, Venice, Paris, London, and back to New York. I’m not sure if I am give enough time in each city.
April 14: New York
April 15-18: Rome
April 19-20: Venice
April 21-23: Paris
April 24- 27: London
April 28: New York

Thank you

 

    Jazmin,

    Your plan looks great. Generally I strongly recommend 3 nights in each city you visit, or even 4 nights in bigger cities such as Paris or London. Rome can get exhausting after three days so I usually recommend just three days there. Venice is small enough (and so crowded) that one or two days is ideal. You might also consider stopping for a couple days in Florence in between Rome and Venice because it’s a major tourism hub and also part of Italy’s “Big 3”. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Prachi says:

Hi Roger,

We are planning for a europe trip for 7 to 8 days. We have a small baby with us. Can you please suggest us which cities we should cover?

We are planning to take a flight to amsterdam.

Thanks,
Prachi

 

    Prachi,

    The baby shouldn’t cause any unusual problems in any of Europe’s major cities, as they are more family friendly than anywhere else I know on the planet. So it’s really about which cities you want to visit. If you have 7 or 8 days I would suggest 2 or perhaps 3 total cities, especially with a baby in tow. If you are landing in Amsterdam you could spend 2 or 3 days there and then take the high-speed train in a bit over 3 hours to Paris for 3 days. Then you could take the Eurostar train in a bit over two hours to London for your final three days. Those three cities are among the most interesting in the world, and all well organized for new parents. I hope this helps. -Roger

     
Melanie says:

Hello!

I am planning on visiting my boyfriend in Europe (he’s stationed out there). The trip would most likely be from December 17-31 (14 days). I would fly in and out from Frankfurt, Germany and the cities we would like to visit are: Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona/Madrid and maybe one other city? I explained to him that Spain is very out of the way, considering I have to fly in and out from Frankfurt. Do you think this trip is doable? If not, what other cities would you suggest in place of Barcelona/Madrid?

Thank you!

 

    Melanie,

    It’s true that Spain is out of the way, but you could pull it off. Barcelona is now only 6.5 hours from Paris on a direct train, and then Madrid is only 2 hours 45 minutes from Barcelona by train. Flying from Paris to Barcelona takes about the same amount of time when you include all the airport transportation and so forth, but the train is far more pleasant. Then you’d have to fly from Madrid back to Frankfurt, however that should be fairly cheap if you buy early enough. Those weeks are busy for flights even in Europe so I’d buy as early as you can. And the same with the train tickets, which are available 3 to 4 months in advance in most countries.

    I think that would make a pretty good trip and obviously Spain is going to be a bit warmer that time of year. But if you wanted alternatives you could go from Amsterdam to Berlin and then to Prague and then to Vienna and/or Salzburg. With all of the low-cost airlines in Europe these days, you can get cheap flights between almost any pair of cities over there. The key, again, is to book as early as possible for popular dates like these. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Sakina Khanbhai says:

Hi Roger

So a couple of friends and I are planning a trip to Europe in June 2019 from Tanzania.
We’d like to spend about 10-14 days (ideally 12)visiting 2-3 countries max.
We’ve all been to London before so don’t want it to be part of our itinerary.
What would you suggest we focus on?
our options so far have been:
1. Portugal and Spain
2. Italy and France
3. Austria and Croatia
4. France, Belgium and Netherlands

open to suggestions and amendments

its a girls trip and everyone is in their 30’s.

main things we are looking for are good sightseeing spots and a few activities and maybe some nightlife

 

    Sakina,

    This sounds really fun. I’m a fan of all of those countries on your list, but as cliche as it sounds I have to favor France and Italy as the best trip if you haven’t been to any of these places. Honestly, Paris, Rome, and Venice all do live up to the considerable hype. I think 10 to 14 days between them (also including Florence in between Venice and Rome) is just about perfect.

    One reason I say this is that France and Italy have the most “thrills” in Europe, along with the best food and wonderful culture. Austria and Croatia both have fantastic scenery (although Switzerland is even better), but they don’t have as many places that you just can’t believe you are finally here in person. Portugal and Spain have lovely climates (getting a bit hot in June), however the food and culture are not nearly as memorable, and the sights are mostly a step down as well. I love Amsterdam and you might even consider adding it to your trip as in Paris then train to Amsterdam then flight to Venice then train to Florence and train to Rome, but I think the rest of that region is a big step down from France and Italy. I’m happy to help more if you have any other questions, and I hope this helps. -Roger

     
Winnie says:

Hi Roger,
It’s great reading your article, we are planning to travel to Europe next September with friends (totally about 6~8) for under 20 days, we would like to visit places of France, Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany, we would also plan to spend part of the trip on river cruise, any good suggestions on planning the whole trip? it will be a pity there will be no tulips then in Holland! maybe we can skip Holland for next time? many thanks Winnie

 

    Winnie,

    I love Amsterdam (and lived there for awhile) and it’s wonderful in September even with no tulips, but if tulips are that high on your list then saving it for a future trip might be best. Most European river cruises are 7 days long so I’d suggest choosing your cruise first and then adding a city or two to the beginning and ending of it that go well with your flights. The Rhine is the most popular river and it obviously runs through the area that interests you most, so that is probably your best choice.

    I’ve yet to do a river cruise myself, but I’ve been to all of the cities they stop in and I’ve researched them quite a bit. They are especially nice for giving you a chance to spend a full day in a town that may not warrant a full three-day visit. So I’d allow 3 nights for Paris and probably for Amsterdam as well, and you can stop in those other cities on the cruise. And as I say often, I highly recommend 3 nights in almost any city you visit, so probably a 7-night cruise and 3 or 4 other cities before and after. Once you choose the cruise I think it will be pretty easy to choose the cities you want to stay longer in. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Farah says:

Hi Roger,
Thanks so much for your detailed information! I’ve booked my ticket to Germany with my husband and we’d fly into Munich on Oct 5 and are planning to go to Oktoberfest on Oct 6 and planning to through Oct 7 in Munich. We’re planning to take the train to Neuschwanstein Castle (I believe it’s the train vs. the Eurorail – is that right?) and then take a plane from that city to Berlin. Wanted to see if you think that’s a good idea or if it’s better to take the train from there to Berlin? AFter that, planning to go to Bruges & Brussels and then Cologne and end our trip in Amsterdam as we’re flying back on Oct. 18. Thoughts on transportation through these cities? What do you think of the order of these? Thank you so much!

 

    Farah,

    I’m happy to hear that this has helped. Neuschwanstein Castle is near the town of Füssen, and it takes about two hours to get there by train from Munich. One problem is that the nearest big airport to Füssen is Munich, so you’ll probably be going back through Munich one way or another. In fact, you might see the castle as a day trip from Munich and you can do that as a package on a bus tour that takes you back to your hotel at the end of the day. If you go on your own it’s still better to take the train from Munich to Berlin, which takes about 4 hours. Flying would take longer once you factor in the airport transportation and waiting time and all that. And the train is a FAR more pleasant experience than flying as well.

    Berlin to Cologne is 4 hours 20 minutes by train so I’d go there next. Once in Cologne it takes about two hours to get to Brussels and Bruges is one hour more. Amsterdam is also close by fast train from Brussels so ending there will work well. Buy those train tickets as soon as you can to get the lowest fares and the most choices of departure times. And book a hotel in Munich as soon as possible because Oktoberfest is so popular that hotels charge double or triple their normal rates and sell out anyway. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Max says:

Hi, Roger–

Thanks for the great site! My wife and I have only been to Italy before and have 1 week to go to Europe. We are interested in going to Paris but are wondering if we should keep our trip contained to Paris and France or branch out to London as well. We would be flying out of Paris and either flying into Paris or another city. We are in low 30s age wise and are interested in walking tours, culture, entertainment, great food. Timing is around Thanksgiving. Thank you!

 

    Max,

    I’m always happy to hear that this is helpful. If you were going during the warmer months I would say that exploring other areas in France might be a great idea, but in late November things tend to be pretty quiet in the smaller towns and especially in the beach areas in the south and west. I think I’d combine Paris with London and do 3 or 4 days in each. Paris and London are easily two of the world’s great cities for culture, entertainment, and walking tours, and they are both quite vibrant all year round. Getting between them on the Eurostar in a bit over two hours is also quite easy, so they are very easy to visit as a pair.

    I’d say most likely you’ll find that a round-trip flight into Paris OR London will be quite a bit cheaper than a flight into one and out of the other, probably even including a round-trip Eurostar train, but it’s worth checking all options. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
David says:

Hi Roger,
need your advice to plan my trip to Europe, its is our first time traveling and we want to travel our own, we are working in Kuwait, plan to travel 2 weeks but not able to decide what places to cover / visit. it will be very helpful you give some advice…

 

    David,

    If you have 14 days in Europe I would suggest choosing 4 or 5 cities that sound interesting, and try to choose cities that are close to each other by train. The nine itineraries mentioned in the article above are my best advice, pretty much in order from top to bottom in terms of which to consider. You could do London, Paris, Venice, Florence, and Rome in two weeks, for example.

    So at least choose two or three cities that interest you most, and use that as the start of your itinerary. Then look for other places that are easy to reach from the first ones you’ve chosen. I’m happy to help as you get further along in your planning. -Roger

     
Fiona says:

Hi Roger- this is Fiona again, Thank you vy much for the advice and information, somehow the reply click wasn’t working. Appreciate you sharing your knowledge with us, it is very helpful
There are changes to the month and places that we would like to visit.
Instead of Nov, it will now be in Dec, and the aim is to watch Juventus during the trip. We would like to see:

France > Paris
Italy > Rome, Venice, Vatican city, Turin (for Juventus match)
UK > ManU and stonehenge
Greece > Athens & Santorini
Portugal > Funchal (CR7 hometown)- i think , it could just be one day for this.

Please help to advise and how many days each and also transportation.. Our disembarkation point is still SG. Thank you very much in advance and looking forward to your recommendations as I am not good with planning for the EU trip at all.- Fiona

 

    Fiona,

    As you’ve probably seen, my strong recommendation is to spend 3 nights in almost any city you visit. Venice is small enough to see in a day or maybe two, and for those football pilgrimages you’d probably want to do them in a day or maybe two. Vatican City, as you probably know, is within Rome so it’s really more of a small neighborhood than a place to go to. You’ll want to set aside at least 6 hours or so to tour the Vatican Museum, which includes the Sistine Chapel and ends in St. Peter’s. I still recommend 3 days for Rome, including the Vatican, partly because it’s quite chaotic and most people get tired of it in a few days.

    For your England visit it’s a bit tricky. In my opinion, Manchester is kind of a dud of a tourist city and there are at least 10 places in England I’d go first, but if you can get a ticket to Old Trafford then it could be worth a day or two for you. You can get cheap flights into Manchester from most large cities in Europe. But getting from Manchester to Stonehenge is about 300 km and will take most of a day by train or bus. Stonehenge is a popular all-day bus trip from London that is often combined with Bath and/or Oxford, but I don’t think they have those trips leaving from Manchester. So you could take a train from Manchester to London and stay two nights to see Stonehenge on your one day there.

    I’ve not been to Madeira so I won’t be much help with that. Obviously you’ll have to fly in and fly out, and you might have to do it through Lisbon.

    Athens is worthwhile all year round, but the Greek Islands, including Santorini, are pretty much closed from November through April because it’s too cold for tourists. Santorini at least has many year-round residents, but most hotels and restaurants will be closed and I wouldn’t recommend going out of season. Obviously you’d have to fly in and out of Athens, and I’m not sure it’s worth it on a trip like this in December.

    This football-themed trip sounds like it could be fun, but honestly it’s a pretty inefficient itinerary and you’d be spending a lot of time in airports and on planes instead of seeing the sights. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Kenny says:

Hi Roger,
My wife and I are traveling in late September to Stuttgart, Germany. She will fly in a week ahead of me for business and then I fly in to meet her and we want to tour as much of Germany/Europe as possible in one week Saturday thru Saturday. It may be possible for her to travel towards a larger city and I fly into there and start our vacation from there. Can you please suggest what you would do. We can tour Germany if I fly into Stuttgart or we can possibly see a larger city/cities by meeting there. This will be our first trip to Europe. Thanks so much for your help!

 

    Kenny,

    This sounds like a great opportunity for a trip for you guys. Stuttgart, as you’ve noticed, is between Munich and Frankfurt so those are the easiest places for you to fly into. Frankfurt is kind of dull so I don’t recommend spending any time there. If you can get a decent fare into Munich I think I’d go there.

    I have a lot of family in Germany and I’ve spent a lot of time there. Here are my recommendations for where to go in Germany. Munich is really interesting for a few days and it’s close to Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Fussen as well. Personally, I love Berlin, but if you only have a week I’m not sure it’s worth going all the way there.

    Since this is your first trip to Europe you might consider spending 4 days or so in Germany and then the last 3 days in Paris, which really does live up to the hype. Or you could include a couple days in Salzburg or in Switzerland if you want to see the best of the Alps. Getting around by train is fast and easy in Germany, even if you don’t speak the language. Buy your train tickets at least a month or so in advance for the best fares. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
JR says:

Thanks Roger for all of the useful comments and suggestions. We are planning a 10 day European trip in September. Agreeing with your 3 day in one major city strategy, 3 in London, 3 in Paris and then we wanted to visit Bordeaux vino country, is this plausible in your opinion? Or, perhaps skip London and go, Munich, Paris, Bordeaux? London, Paris and Munich? We haven’t been to any of these cities. Thanks for your help!

 

    JR,

    Yes, spending 3 days in Bordeaux would be great and it’s a very popular option in France. You can get there by train from Paris in about 3 hours and there are tours out to the various wineries leaving every day.

    If you haven’t been to any of these cities I think I would save Munich for a later trip. It’s pretty nice, but I think the others are much more memorable and interesting, and it’s easier to get between the others as well by train. -Roger

     
Kay says:

Hi Roger,

We’ve made a rookie mistake of booking a flight straight to Paris for our Europe trip. Our ideal places are Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin/Munich, Rome/Venice and then leaving from London in the span of 3 weeks. What can you recommend? We only have 8 weeks before we leave. Help! and Thanks if you can!

 

    Kay,

    Flying into Paris is a great place to start a Europe tour, so I don’t think it’s a mistake. If you have 3 weeks I would recommend visiting about 7 cities. You could spend 3 days in Paris and then take a train to Amsterdam then a train to Berlin then to Munich and then a train or flight to Venice (for 1 or 2 days) and then a train to Florence and then to Rome and then fly to London and finally take the Eurostar train from London to Paris for your flight home. Something along those lines should work well. Buy your train tickets and flights as soon as possible for the cheapest fares. Let me know if you have any other questions and I hope this helps. -Roger

     
Bavani says:

Hi Roger,
Thank you so much for all the much useful information you provided. I am so inspired by all your kind advices. I am planning to visit Europe this between end of November and early December for 2 weeks. I will be travelling with my elderly parents and a brother. It is my longtime dream to bring my family for a vacation to Europe. Could you please suggest the best European cities to visit in November/December? London, Amsterdam, the Alps and Paris are in my wishlist. Please kindly advice. Thanking you in advance.

 

    Bavani,

    If you have two weeks I would visit London for 3 or 4 days then take the Eurostar to Paris for 3 or 4 days then a train to Amsterdam for 3 days and then fly to Zurich to visit the Interlaken area for 3 days. Your elderly parents should be fine on those trains. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Neha says:

Hi Roger,

Thank you for the information shared. It is indeed very helpful. I am planning a 2 weeks holiday starting from 19th April 19 to 04th May 19. We are 3 of us including a 5 year old. I am keen on doing Berlin-Prague-Vienna-Budapest with 3 days in each location. I am unsure on the weather and want to know if this is a good idea. We will be traveling from Hong Kong.

Also, if this is not a great option what are the alternatives. We have done Greece and Russia.

Thanks,
Neha

 

    Neha,

    That trip sounds great and I think the weather will be mostly pleasant. Europe doesn’t really have a “rainy season” though it can rain any day of the year. It’s really just a matter of the typical temperatures, and it will be a bit cool in late April, but definitely nice enough for sightseeing. In fact, that is one of my favorite times of year to visit Europe because starting in mid May it gets more crowded and hotel prices go up, and in June through August those cities are packed and hotel prices are higher. You can get between all of those cities on the trains pretty easily. I’m happy to help if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Fiona says:

Dear Roger,

Thank you so much for your suggestions and recommendations. I completely agreed that we may be spending more time on airports and planes- we don’t want that. I also agree on spending 3 days minimum for some of the cities. I had revised to :

France > Paris (2 nights)
Italy > Rome (3 nights- including vatican city)
> Turin (2 nights)
> Venice (2 nights- or should I just do 1 night?)
Greece > Athens (3 nights) (sadly, I remove santorini)
Portugal> Fuchal (2 nights) – i will remove if the flight path is difficult
UK > London (3 nights)
> Stonehenge (2 nights)

Does the above make sense? Will you please help me on where to go first then to connect to make more sense? Thank you very much…

 

    Fiona,

    I think narrowing your trip down is wise. If you want to keep that list of cities I think it makes the most sense to start in Athens and then fly to Rome and then take a train to Venice and then a train to Turin. You could then take a train to Paris or fly, followed by the Eurostar train to London. I think it makes the most sense to fly from England to Fuchal, although you may have to change planes in Lisbon. That is going to be an expensive and awkward place to fit into your trip, but if it means that much to you I’m sure you’ll enjoy it and not many other people can say they’ve made that pilgrimage. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Kay says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks for your suggestion. Do you recommend spending just a day each from Amsterdam and the other cities in Germany? Is that achievable if we just stay overnight in each city just before we fly/train to Venice? Overall, our days would be a total of 19 days, and the 19th being our departure from London. We don’t want to spend too much time travelling unless there our picturesque views between train trips and whatnot. Should we get a Eurail pass or do you think we would be able make do with daily tickets?

Thanks again!

Kay

 

    Kay,

    I’m a strong advocate for spending 3 days in just about any city you visit. You could enjoy a one-day visit to a tiny place like Rothenburg ob der Tauber or the castle in Fussen or even Venice, but those are only good if it doesn’t take long to get there or long to get to the next place. Berlin is huge and Munich is quite large as well, so a one-day visit would mean you’d have time to walk around a bit and maybe see one sight and then have dinner before heading back to your hotel to get ready to leave early the next morning.

    If you are only visiting 6 or 7 cities and especially if a few of them are in Italy then buying individual tickets as far in advance will be the cheapest way to go. Eurail passes are great for long trips where you want to make decisions at the last minute, because same-day train tickets can be incredibly expensive. But if you buy a month or more in advance the train tickets are almost always cheaper than the per-day price of a rail pass. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Farah says:

Hi Roger!
Thanks for the information. Any thoughts on what website I should use to book my transportation from Munich to Fussen and then from Munich to Cologne? Assuming train would be best for both, right? And for exploring the castle in Fussen, as you mentioned – my husband and I would buy a tour to explore it on our own. Any recommendations on where to buy tickets or through which company? Thanks so much!

Side note – I’ve read horrible reviews about DB, so likely will not take that. Let me know if you have suggestions on other train options.

 

    Farah,

    Deutsche Bahn (DB) runs all the trains in Germany and they also run bahn.com, which is the best place to buy train tickets. It’s true that DB trains have had increasing punctuality struggles, but they are still the best way of getting longer distances because the intercity trains go much faster than any bus or car. You might arrive 20 minutes late, but you’ll get there and you might even be on time.

    When you buy a normal ticket for Schloß Neuschwanstein it includes a guided tour of the first and second floors, and I would do that for sure. Then you can do a self-guided tour of the 3rd and 4th floors. Just buy a bus ticket at the train station and that drops you at the ticket center. You can pay a lot more for a private tour guide, but I think the normal tour will be all you want. -Roger

     
Cathy says:

Hi Roger, thank you for the wealth of information you provide on this site ! My friend and I are planning our first multi-destination trip from Boston to Europe next month, in September ! There’s so many places we’d like to see, and would love to see all that you’ve mentioned the 5 cities for first timers. Problem is, not sure if we’ll have time to see them all. We’ve narrowed the itinerary to : London, Paris, Amsterdam and Rome (though I would have loved to see Venice and Florence). There’s a possibility I might be able to extend my trip by 1-2 days, maybe Italy. But, my friend have a little bit less flexibility.

**We’re both excited about this trip, but we’re a little anxious. Tentative travel dates are september 9-9/24. We’re in our late 30’s and would love to see some of the key highlights in each city, without feeling like we’re cramming too much in (have a feeling we would be).I know we’ll have a full schedule, but would like to still have a little downtime to relax/enjoy the culture/experience in each city: cafe’s, restaurants, scenery, food, etc. We’re still tweaking our itinerary. Below’s how our itinerary looks something like this:

*From Boston, We would like to travel to find the best sequence that would minimize backtracking/losing time. Our itinerary looks something like this :

1)
Boston to London, leave 9/9, arrive 9/10 (7AM)
London (9/10-9/14)
2) EUROSTAR (LONDON to AMSTERDAM)- arrive 8:31 AM, Sep 14
3) Amsterdam Sep 14 – Sep 17 (THALYS #9352 (AMSTERDAM to PARIS), a little over 3 hrs, arrive before 5pm
4) In Paris, Sep 17 – Sep 21
5) Regional Flight to Rome Sep 21, depart Orly airport at 10 am, arrive at noon (FCO). Stay in Rome, Sep 21 – Sep 24
6) Depart Rome and Returning home, 9/24

** Any suggestions with the itinerary ? Also, we have a few hotels we selected closer to a rail/train and/or not too far from some main attractions. Of course, any suggestions you offer would be helpful. Lastly, we’re considering booking out travel with Tripmaster. Any experience with that and/or is it even worth it (savings-wise) ?

 

    Cathy,

    I’m glad to hear that you found this useful. Your itinerary looks like it was put together by a seasoned professional. The only thing that you might consider, and I’m not sure it’s a better plan, would be to shave one day from either London or Paris and then fly to Venice to spend about 24 hours there before taking a train down to Rome for 3 days. I discuss it more in my article on the 5 European cities best for first-time visitors. The short version is that Venice might be the single most mind-blowing place to experience in Europe because it’s so gorgeous and so unusual. It’s also small enough (and so crowded) so you can enjoy the highlights in a stay of about 24 hours. And the train ride from Venice to Rome only takes a few hours more.

    Again, I like your plan of lingering a bit and not rushing so you might be better of saving Venice for a future trip that also includes Florence and maybe Naples and Amalfi.

    As for hotels, I have articles for recommended hotels in each of these cities that are linked from the main page for each city I have on this website. For example, here is the recommended hotels in Paris page. The hotel scene changes quickly in these places, but you might still find those articles interesting because I discuss some of my favorite neighborhoods in each place and the reasons why.

    I’d never heard of Tripmasters until just now. The website looks pretty impressive. In my own experience you get lower rates and far more flexibility when you book on your own in Europe and most other parts of the world. The downside to booking each place yourself is all of the research and uncertainty that goes along with it. It looks like you’ve done most of the tough research already so I think you could book it all yourself and probably save money. That said, I think travel agents are still a good choice for some people and as long as their prices look good I think it could be worthwhile. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Raj says:

Hi Roger

Finally I think am settled with my itinerary for 6 weeks long trip of Europe, and really appreciate your expert advice here. I hope the trip is not too hectic?
I am planning to hire a car from Florence to Siena (Tuscany area) all the way to Sorrento, do you think it’s a good idea?

Best regards
Raj

Day Destination Night stay Nights
Fri Sydney – Edinburgh flight 1
Sat Reach Edinburgh Edinburgh 1
Sun Edinburgh Edinburgh 1
Mon Glencoe – Kinlochleven Kinlochleven 1
Tue Inverness – Edinburgh – London London 1
Wed London London 3
Thu London London
Fri London London
Sat London to Paris Paris 4
Sun Paris Paris
Mon Paris Paris
Tue Paris Paris
Wed Paris – Amsterdam via Bruges Amsterdam 3
Thu Amsterdam Amsterdam
Fri Amsterdam Amsterdam
Sat Amsterdam – Berlin Berlin 3
Sun Berlin Berlin
Mon Berlin Berlin
Tue Berlin – Prauge Prague 3
Wed Prague Prague
Thu Prague Prague
Fri Prague – Munich Munich 2
Sat Munich Munich
Sun Munich – Fussen Fussen 1
Mon Fussen – Bern Bern 4
Tue Interlaken/Lucerne/Bern Bern
Wed Interlaken/Lucerne/Bern Bern
Thu Interlaken/Lucerne/Bern Bern
Fri Bern to Venice via Varenna Varenna 1
Sat Varenna – Venice Venice 2
Sun Venice Venice
Mon Venice – Padua – Vernazza Vernazza 2
Tue Vernazza – Cinque Terre Vernazza
Wed Chinque Terre – Pisa – Florence Florence 3
Thu Florence Florence
Fri Florence Florence
Sat Tuscany region – Siena Siena 1
Sun Siena to Naples to Sorrento Sorrento 2
Mon Amalfi coastline, Capri Sorrento
Tue Sorrento to Rome via Pompoii Rome 4
Wed Rome Rome
Thu Rome Rome
Fri Rome Rome
Sat Fly to Sydney Flight
Sun Home

 

    Raj,

    Wow! That is one of the most impressive itineraries I’ve ever seen. At first glance I was almost sure you were going to be planning on changing cities every day or every other day, but a closer look reveals that you have it pretty much perfect as far as moving quickly but not too quickly. The order of destinations is extremely efficient and there is pretty much nothing I would change. I also love that you are going to Inverness and that area, as it’s ignored by most people even though it’s gorgeous.

    As for driving around Tuscany I think it could be enjoyable, but I still think trains would be better. Driving in Italy is confusing and drivers tend to be quite aggressive, plus parking tends to be challenging. Also, Italy subsidizes their train systems quite a bit so train tickets are unusually cheap there. If you can get a good deal on a car rental then it could be a fun change of pace, but you’d have a great time on trains as well, and they go pretty much everywhere you want to go anyway.

    One last thing I’ll mention is that this is a LONG trip with so many stops that I think you’ll probably become a bit burned out before the end, and that is totally normal. I’ve done quite a few trips like this and after three weeks or so of sightseeing and traveling every day it can start to feel like a job. In my case it literally is my job, but I think everyone gets a bit tired of this schedule after a few weeks. Fortunately you’ve got enough time in each city planned where you won’t be rushing around, so it won’t be too bad. Still, I would recommend you keep your schedule flexible after the first two or three weeks. By the time you get to, say, Fussen, you might be ready for a little break and the idea of resting for 2 or 3 days will sound better than racing off to Switzerland.

    And towards the end I think there is a good chance that one-day visits to places like Siena won’t sound as interesting, so you can save them for a future trip and re-route a bit. Or you might be the rare traveler who can keep up the intensity for 6 straight weeks. I actually got burned out on a trip like this a few years ago and I ended up staying 5 days in Sorrento instead of 2 or 3. Not only is there a LOT to do around there, but it’s very pleasant and most people speak English and the food is excellent and not overpriced like in Rome or Venice. Have a fantastic trip and let me know if I can help more. -Roger

     
Raj says:

Thanks Roger
I agree with you, this might burn all of us at the end so will take out some of the destinations for some other time.
I am thinking of taking out Germany and Prague, what would you suggest? I think I need to reduce this by 10 days.

best regards
Raj

 
Swati says:

Hii Roger

Firstly I really want to appreciate the website and the way you respond.
I m planning a trip of 8-10 days to Europe with my husband around Feb2019 (first week)
Suggest me what maximum part I can cover during this period.
Eiffel Tower is a must see , suggest the best possible options

 

    Swati,

    I’m happy you find this useful. First off, you might find my article on the best Europe destinations in February useful as well.

    In 8 to 10 days I would definitely keep it to 3 total destinations. And since Paris is one of them the other two obvious choices would be London and Amsterdam. All three of those cities are excellent choices and are connected by high-speed trains so you won’t waste a lot of time flying or on long train rides. All three of them also can be found on my 5 Great Cities in Europe article, so you can get more information there.

    Spending 3 nights in each city would be ideal, and if you have an extra night I would spend it in London or Paris. You can fly into any of them and fly out of any of them as they all have huge and major airports. It might be cheapest to fly in and out of the same airport, and in that case Paris is probably the best choice, but if you can fly cheaper into Amsterdam or London those would work well too. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Pamela says:

Hey Roger,
thank you writing such great article, i am planning a Christmas and new year’s trip with my two teenager daughters from east africa to Europe (they have been to stuttgart, London, Paris), we have our Schengen visas sorted, what cities would you recommend to visit during this period (20th Dec to 10th January 2019)?

 

    Pamela,

    Interestingly enough, I just updated my article yesterday on the best Europe destinations in December, and I think that will be helpful. The list includes 13 cities that have decent weather and plenty to do that time of year. Have a look at that and if you have other questions please ask below that article and I’ll answer as soon as I can. -Roger

     
Raj says:

Roger
Many thanks for your comments, I now taken Germany and Prague out of this trip, would you suggest buying Eurail pass or book individually?
I am travelling with my wife and 11 yr.

Regards
Raj

 

    Raj,

    Eurail passes are great for long trips like yours, but mostly when someone wants to make plans as they go. In other words, if you buy train tickets at least a few weeks in advance they tend to be cheaper (usually much cheaper) than the per-day charge of a Eurail Pass. But those same tickets are very expensive if you buy them on short notice. So as long as you are able to buy most of your more expensive tickets at least a few weeks in advance it should be cheaper to do it that way. Basically, the further north you are and the longer the distance, the more expensive the train ticket. France is pretty expensive as well, but they also charge an abnormally high seat reservation charge for Eurail Pass users so buying individual tickets is almost always best.

    One thing you might do is look into a Flexi pass, which gets cheaper for a family all going to the same places. You can buy from 5 to 10 travel days in 2 months and then use those days on your most expensive train rides. That way you can still be flexible with some dates and you’ll have a reasonable price locked in for your trains. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Steven says:

Hey Roger! I will be a first-time European traveler next summer (current plan is July). We have 14-16 days to work with – what would you recommend from these rough options?

1. Italy, Greece, Switzerland
2. UK, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands
3. Mediterranean Cruise, Paris
4. Germany, Prague, Budapest, Switzerland

Thank you!

 

    Steven,

    This is an interesting choice because each option is so different. Considering this is your first time and that you’ll be coming in July I really think the Med cruise and Paris option will be the most spectacular. Paris is really an amazing place to spend 3 or 4 nights, and if you’ve got another few days you could take the Eurostar train over to London for a few days. The Mediterranean cruise will also be the perfect way to get an introduction to Barcelona and Venice and a few other great cities. By the time you’ve finished that cruise you’ll probably have a list of places you want to go back to, along with your existing list of places that cruises don’t reach.

    Also, in 14 to 16 days it would be tough to really do a meaningful visit for your other options. My strong recommendation is to spend 3 nights in pretty much any city you visit, so in 14 to 16 days you’d really be wanting to choose 5 or so cities rather than countries. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Cindy says:

Hi Roger,

Thank you kindly for taking your time to write such an amazing article! Your tips and hints are very helpful.

I’m needing your expertise since it’s going to be my first trip to Europe and I’ll be traveling with 4 other adults and covering most of the cost.

What is your suggestion for best and inexpensive transportation if we are trying to focus in on Venice, Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid, and Rome? We are looking to travel for 15 days.

Thank you so much. Your help is greatly appreciated.

 

    Cindy,

    I think 15 days for 5 cities is ideal. You’ll want to take trains as much as possible because it’s cheaper if you buy far enough in advance, and it’s FAR more enjoyable than flying. You can take a high-speed train between Paris and Amsterdam in about 3.5 hours. And you can do Venice to Rome by train in about the same amount of time. Unfortunately, the rest are too spread out to be within train distance so you’ll be needing to fly.

    If you are open to substitutions I would suggest saving Madrid for a future trip and doing Florence between Venice and Rome, especially since you’ll be going through it whether you stop there or not. Madrid has a lot going for it (even though Barcelona seems to be far more popular these days), but I really think Florence would be more enjoyable on a first visit. Not only are Venice, Florence, and Rome known as Italy’s “Big 3” destinations, but Florence is the heart and capital of Tuscany and it has excellent food and interesting culture that you won’t get in either Venice or Rome. Also helpful is that it replaces a long flight with a short and cheap train trip. By the way, Venice is compact and crowded (and amazing) so I think one or two nights is best, and I’d spend one more night in Paris. I’m sure this will be a great trip and I’m happy to help more if you have other questions. -Roger

     
diana says:

Hi Roger,
This was a great article and very helpful. I am from Indonesia and planning to to do London -> amsterdam-> paris -> Barcelona -> lisbon (or perhaps you have much better combination) . Do you recommend traveling by train, plane or a combination of both?
I would really appreciate if you could share your expertise in getting most of our Europe trip. This trip will start from 20 October 2018 and end at 4th November 2018 .London is our fly in/fly out in and we are planning to spend our last week in England – Scotland and London. Cause me and friends want to watch football games on 3rd November 2018 We have 1 weeks to explore Amsterdam, France, Barcelona and Portugal possibly and then back to London for explore oxford buy bus from Victoria station , Yorkl/Liverpool, Edinburgh (Glasglow if possible). Total of 2 weeks excluding fly time. Do we need book rail passes for 3 person or book select 4 combination countries is enough? Also do we need book britrail England pass or just train tickets each city?. Hope to hear from you soon!
I knew this a bit ambitious but I have to make this trip into consideration as far as places to go. So, I need your best advice.
Thanks,
Diana

 

    Diana,

    This sounds like a wonderful trip, but I really do think your plan is too ambitious for two weeks. Even if you want to move quickly I still recommend staying 3 nights in almost any city you visit. One main reason (explained in detail in that article I linked to) is that traveling from one city to another takes most of your day from checking out of one hotel until you check into a hotel in the next city. And even if you stay only two nights, that’s really only one proper sightseeing day and then the next day traveling.

    So I would recommend saving Lisbon for another trip (and you’d have to fly in and out) and maybe saving Barcelona as well. Your Britain plans look very busy so what I’d recommend is fly into London and then take the Eurostar to Amsterdam (5 hours) for 3 nights and then the high-speed train to Paris (3.5 hours) for 3 nights and then the Eurostar back to London (2.5 hours). Those are excellent cities and staying 3 nights in each will let you sample the main highlights without rushing so much.

    I’d stay in London for 3 nights as well. You could enjoy Edinburgh in 2 nights. York is small enough to enjoy in a day, and Oxford is a full-day trip from London. I’d skip Liverpool and Glasgow on this trip because you just don’t have enough time.

    Britrail passes are really expensive and they are only good deals for people who want to take long trips on short notice. Your schedule will be so tight that it’ll be best to figure out all of your train rides in advance. And for ALL of your train rides, including the Eurostar and the train from Amsterdam to Paris, they will be cheaper the earlier you buy. In Britain the train tickets can be surprisingly cheap if you buy at least a couple weeks early, and amazingly expensive if you buy on travel day. Sorry that I can’t help you figure out how to get all 12 or so places into a 14-day trip, and I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Alex says:

Roger, thank you for a fantastic resource. I’m sure all these travelers appreciate your advice and feedback.

My wife and I are planning a 10 year anniversary Europe trip for 2 weeks. We don’t want to do Paris this time because the kids would like to come in the near future. We would like to do Italy for sure and 3 nights in Rome, 3 nights in Florence and 1 or 2 in Venice as you have suggested multiple times. If you don’t mind, I wanted to task you a few things:

1. I read all the comments above, Is May or June better time than July/August?
2. What would you suggest we could do for the second week that is worth doing not far from north Italy? Would Munich and the Neuschwanstein castle be doable from Venice. Perhaps 2 or 3 days there thaen to Interlaken before coming back down to Italy through the Alps as you also suggested for the return fly home?
3. I have heard that Venice has an unpleasant smell during the summer is that accurate?
4. Lastly, if we had the opportunity to fly back from a different city, lets say Barcelona and we wanted to fly between european cities, is there an airline or resource you would suggest to look for flights?

Thanks!

 

    Alex,

    Generally speaking I’d say that May or June are better for European cities than July or August. Except for Paris (which is half empty in August), European cities are most crowded in July and August and of course those are the hottest months as well. If you can go in late May that would be best for Italy.

    From Milan you can get to Interlaken in only a few hours so it’s an excellent place to add on to an Italy trip. From there you can get to Munich pretty quickly so I think your idea to also go there and the castle is a great one. Check those train travel times though because some sections of that journey might be on slower trains.

    I’ve been to Venice a few times and I haven’t had an unpleasant smell, but I have heard people mention that. My hunch is that it’s not all that bad most of the time so it doesn’t really affect people’s enjoyment of the place. Venice is really amazing and it’s worth a day or two even if you have to put up with a bit of unpleasantness.

    Booking cheap flights within Europe is very easy. I usually use kayak.com to find which airlines I have to choose from. I usually avoid Ryanair because the seats are small and it’s a hassle, but easyJet is similar and I have had good experiences with them. If you go to Spain then you’ll probably be able to choose Vueling, and they are one of my favorite low-cost airlines. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Fiona says:

Hi Roger.. thank you so much for the advice and tips.
This is Fiona again, sorry to trouble .. I had revised the itinerary to remove London (Man U/Stonehenge) due to 2 different type of visas required 🙁
Thank you so much for such in depth information and these are really helpful.
I had revised the below as updated itinerary for our Honeymoon of 25 days (Disembarkation from Yangon, Myanmar):
4D3N Rome (including vatican) —>Venice [Train]
2D1N Venice —> Lisbon [Flight- I think, I am not too sure]
2D1N Lisbon —> Funchal ( I know ..i should stay longer in Lisbon, but the main destination is Funchal) [domestic flight]
2D1N Funchal —> back to Lisbon to transfer
2D1N Lisbon—> Madrid [Train]
3D2N Madrid —> Barcelona ( I read that you recommend 3 N for Madrid and 2N will do as well.. so i will take your advice) [Train]
4D3N Barcelona —> Paris [Train]
4D3N Paris —> Amsterdam [High speed train] (Will 2N in Paris enough?)
3D2N Amsterdam —> Athens [Flight] ( you mentioned that 2N in Amsterdam is enough as well)
3D2N Athens—> Santorini [Ferry] (2N in Athens is enough?)
3D2N Santorini —> Turin [ Fly from Athens to Rome then with train to Turin or may be a flight from Athens to Turin]
3D2N Turin —> Rome
2D1N Rome —> Home (Yangon)

May I ask you to review and kindly let me know:
1. The travel times between each city make sense and logistically possible?
2. Should they be in different orders?
3. Are the nights spend in each location reasonable?
4. Any other tips and recommendations from you to us as honeymooners and first trip to Europe

Thank you very much in advance and looking forward to your recommendations
then i will book hotels 🙂
Cheers, Fiona

 

    Fiona,

    If I’m understanding your notation correctly, your trip is 37 days and 24 nights. The problem with this is that each time you change cities you’ll be spending most of that day going from the hotel to the airport or train station and so forth until you are in the next hotel. I’ve done trips like that where I stay one night in a city so I can see the main highlight and it gets exhausting quickly. So it’s really more like one night and zero days in some places if you don’t check in until 5pm and you have to leave again right after breakfast the next morning, or even earlier.

    I believe the only train from Lisbon to Madrid runs overnight, but there may be a daytime bus. The order of your cities looks efficient, but if you’ve only got 25 days I would save a few destinations for your next trip. Athens in two nights is okay if you only want to take a photo on top of the Acropolis and then leave. But I don’t think I’d do just two nights in Santorini. People go there to relax, and in two nights you’ll have just enough time to go to the beach and have a few meals before getting back on the ferry. I’d save Greece for another trip if you’ve only got 4 days and you want to see Athens and an island. The ferries between Athens and Santorini take between 5 and 9 hours each way (the fast one is much more expensive), so it takes most of the day when you include getting to the terminal and boarding early and whatnot.

    I think if you cut out Greece and maybe one or two other cities you’d have a much more enjoyable honeymoon. But if your main goal is to see as many places as you can in 25 days, your itinerary should work. There’s no right or wrong way to travel and I’ve gone quickly like this before. Especially on a honeymoon, spend 3 nights in Paris rather than 2. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Sakina Khanbhai says:

Hi Roger,

We’re planning a girls trip to Europe in June 2019 and thinking of doing Budapest (3nights), Prague (3nights) and Vienna (3nights).
Thinking of opting for AirBnB’s but need help with the areas around where we should stay.
Also, do you think its wise to get the passes? (Vienna pass etc) or freestyle our sightseeing? If yes, would you have detailed itineraries to give us an idea of what places are a must see, foods etc?
Are vegetarian meals easy to find in these cities?

 

    Sakina,

    I’ve stayed in quite a few Airbnbs in Europe, but the challenge is always that they are most plentiful and cheapest in residential neighborhoods rather than useful tourist neighborhoods. If someone has an Airbnb in the heart of the tourist action they will always price it even higher than nearby hotels because they can. So to get good value out of Airbnbs you have to find residential neighborhoods that are close enough to the sights.

    Budapest has the Buda zone on the west side of the river and Pest on the east side. Hotels on or very near the river are most expensive, and Buda is hilly and smaller than Pest, so the best values are on the Pest side a kilometer or two from the river, and hopefully near public transport. Most of the sights are on that side as well, including most of the natural springs and day spas.

    Prague, believe it or not, has an almost identical layout, and I’ve heard stories of someone using a map for one city while in the other. And again, the best values for a good location are on the east side of the river. The closer you are to the river and to the main train station, the better off you are. The area east of the main train station isn’t as nice, so it’s better to be south or a bit west of it.

    Vienna has its Ring Road that more or less defines the city center. Needless to say, the closer you are to the Ring Road the better, and the places south of the Ring Road near the train station are easier to reach and more convenient.

    Those city passes like the Vienna Pass CAN be a good deal for some visitors, but it really depends on your goals and travel style. I have an article discussing each of them that should help you decide if it’s good for you or not.

    Generally speaking, vegetarian meals are pretty easy to find in most of Europe and getting easier each year. However, these three cities are all notoriously non-veg-oriented and you might have to look around a bit. I’m sure there are plenty of websites with veg recommendations in cities like this, so doing that research before you arrive should help. If you just walk into a typical local restaurant in these cities and order a vegetable dish, it might be made with a bit of animal fat for flavor. That said, there are Indian restaurants in all of these cities and obviously those can be safe choices. And as I mentioned, there are increasing numbers of veg and vegan restaurants opening up where you could order anything on the menu.

    As far as sightseeing recommendations, I have the main highlights of each city listed on the page on this site for each city, along with their admission price. Aside from that I prefer not to recommend specific lists of attractions because tastes and budgets are so different. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Echah says:

Hye Roger,

I have booked my 21 days to euro.. depart from malaysia on 23/12 to london and return from paris on 14/1/2019. Can yoi advise the best city to visit taking into consideration my arrival at london and return from paris.

I was thinking to visit london_brussle_rome_paris

Any tips?

Thanks

 

    Echah,

    In 21 days I’d recommend going to 6 or 7 total cities if you want to move quickly, or 4 or 5 if you’d rather move slowly. I think the itinerary most filled with highlights that are different from each other is London to Paris to Amsterdam and then a flight to Venice (or nearby Treviso) and then Florence and Rome. In your case you could go from London straight to Amsterdam on the Eurostar train and then fly from Rome to Paris for your last 3 or 4 days. I discuss most of those cities in more detail on this article about Europe’s 5 great cities to see first. I recommend 3 nights in most cities, although London and Paris are large enough that 4 nights is better if you have the time. And Venice is small enough to enjoy in 1 or 2 nights.

    If you want to add on another city you should find some ideas in the article above. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Elaine Yap says:

Hi Roger! I read half of the comments in this entry! and i find it very very useful. thank you very much!!

i am planning my honeymoon for May next year with a total of 25 days. and it will be our first time to visit europe.

we are considering to visit these places:
(the number of days are based on what i read in the comments)

rome – 3 nights
florence – 3 nights (skipping venice since you mentioned it is very expensive)
barcelona – 3 nights
madrid – 2 nights
amsterdam – 2-3 nights
paris – 4 nights
interlaken switzerland – 1 night
zurich switzerland – 2 nights
athens greece – 3 days
santorini greece – 2 days

do you think this is possible? im open to your suggestions. if maybe one is too far already. please let me know. and what should the order be? i want paris to be towards the end so we can do a little shopping there also.

thank you very much!

looking forward to hear from you.

Elaine

 

    Elaine,

    Sorry I didn’t answer this sooner. Your plan looks quite good, although I do think you are rushing a bit in places.

    Venice is indeed quite expensive, but it’s also unlike anything else on earth and I recommend going there for about 24 hours as a little splurge. It’s actually only a bit more expensive than Rome and Florence, and it’s only a couple hours by train from Florence so you’ll be close already.

    You might have a look at my article on where to go in Switzerland on a short trip. Zurich is actually WAY more expensive than Venice and it’s not very interesting. Skip Zurich and add 1 or 2 days to Interlaken. All the details are in that article.

    If I were you I think I’d actually save Greece for another trip, and spread those days in Madrid and Amsterdam and Venice. Athens and Santorini are both very nice and interesting, and in May they are fairly cheap as well (partly because the beach season in Santorini doesn’t really start until June). The thing is, you’d need to fly to Athens from somewhere and then fly to Santorini (the ferries take 5 to 9 hours so it’s a whole day of travel). And then you’d have to fly back to Athens and then fly to another city. So to visit Greece for 5 days you’d be spending most of two full days flying around. If you had a week for Greece it might be different, but in 5 days I think it would be too hectic, and you could use those days elsewhere. I really recommend 3 nights in just about every city except for Venice. I’m happy to help if you have other questions. -Roger

     
Steven says:

Hey Roger! Thanks for the reply on my earlier inquiry. Here’s one current option:

2 nights in Barcelona
6-night cruise from Barcelona to Venice, with stops in: Cannes, Rome, Catania, Zadar
2 nights in Venice
2 nights in Florence
3 nights in Paris

What would you adjust? I’m really interested in getting to Lucerne, but feel like that would take a significant chunk of time. Thanks so much!

 

    Steven,

    That looks fantastic. I think the only thing I might change is spending 3 nights in Florence and 1 night in Venice, although 2 and 2 would also be nice. The thing about Venice is that it’s quite small and very crowded. It’s also amazing and fairly expensive. You can see the main sights in around 24 hours, and the early mornings and evenings are the best because in the middle of the day the place is packed with bus tourists and cruise passengers. But again, it’s an amazing place. Florence has much more to see and you can also do a half-day trip to Pisa (about an hour by train) or a few other things.

    Two nights in Barcelona is also a bit short, but since you probably won’t have to be on the boat until late afternoon it should work well.

    And I agree about Lucerne, and Interlaken is even more spectacular. To enjoy Switzerland I think you’d need at least 3 days and 4 or 5 is better, so probably better to save it for next time. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Elaine says:

Hi Roger! Thank you very much for giving your comments.

Do you recommend visiting Interlaken in May? because if weather is not good then
im thinking of just skipping switzerland. and spend more time in greece/madrid/venice.

hope to hear from you.

thanks

 

    Elaine,

    May is one of the better months for weather in Interlaken because it’s fairly warm and the summer rains haven’t started. It can rain or be cloudy at the tops of the Alpine peaks any day of the year, including May of course, but on average it’s one of the better months. -Roger

     
Jacqueline says:

Hi Roger,
This is a great article for reference! It will be my first trip to Europe and I’m planning along this route, not sure if you have any recommendations. Planning for a 14 days.
Rome -> Florence -> Venice -> Switzerland and maybe Milan (for return?)
Wondering what’s the best way from Venice to Swiss.

Thanks!

 

    Jacqueline,

    From Milan to Interlaken, Switzerland the train takes about 4.5 hours and it’s one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. Venice to Milan takes a bit over two hours and if you started in Venice you’d be changing trains in Milan anyway. You might even consider going from Venice to Milan in the morning and then stowing your bags at the Milan train station for a couple hours while you go see the cathedral and the lovely area around it. Those are the main things to see in Milan anyway and you can get a good look in a couple hours before getting on a train heading to Switzerland in the afternoon. Buy your train ticket as soon as possible for the lowest fare and most choices of departure times. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Elaine says:

Hi Roger!

Thank you very much for the quick response.
I am visiting Zurich because I have family there. So i will be staying with them to save on hotel expenses.

Would you recommend i do a day trip from Zurich to Interlaken?
Or is it best to stay in Interlaken?

Im just worried about the expenses. We will be on a budget trip. haha.

Thanks Roger!

 

    Elaine,

    Oh yes, a free place to stay in Zurich is worth a lot. Zurich is definitely a pleasant city and the historic center is quite charming. It’s just that hotel rooms in Zurich are priced for bankers on expense accounts so even a basic room with a bathroom down the hall starts at CHF200 and goes way up from there. All of Switzerland is expensive so it’s fortunate that it has so many amazing sights in a small area. If you can afford to stay one night in the Interlaken area I think it would be worth it and something you won’t forget. Even a night at the Mountain Hostel in Gimmelwald would be fantastic. If you have a Half Fare Card then the train ride from Zurich to Interlaken becomes fairly affordable, but it does take two hours each way and once you reach Interlaken Ost station in Interlaken you are still an hour or so from the places you want to visit in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, so it’s more like 3 hours each way. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Eja says:

Hi Roger,

Me and my friends planning to travel around europe about 15 days in April 2019. We will depart from Malaysia to London and going back from London to Malaysia. This is our 1st time to Europe. We’re planning to visit London, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, Prague, Denmark, Germany and Annecy.
Can you help us to sorting out the itinerary that is convenient to travel. What kind of transport to travel between country or city that economic and cheap.
Thanks and Best Regards.

 

    Eja,

    I’ll be happy to try to help, but I think the first thing you need to do is cut your city list a bit. If you’ve only got 15 days I’d highly recommend choosing 5 or perhaps 6 cities in total. Your current list has 6 cities and 2 countries. Even if you just chose 1 city in each country it would be 8 cities in 15 days, which would mean spending no more than two days in any city, and one day in one or two of them. Doing it that way you’d literally be spending more than half of your trip on trains or in airports. Please at least scan this article I wrote that explains why 3 nights in each city is usually ideal. Another factor is that each time you go from one city to another it probably averages €50 to €100 per person, so the more city changes the more expensive the trip becomes.

    Since this is your first visit to Europe I’d stick mostly to the classics. You might also have a look at my article on the best 5 cities for a first trip to Europe. Starting in London I’d spend 3 nights there and then the Eurostar train to Paris for 3 nights. From there you could take the train in a bit over 3 hours to Amsterdam for 3 nights. I’d save Brussels for another trip because Amsterdam is much more interesting. You could then take a train from Amsterdam to Berlin, which is the most interesting city in Germany and also fairly affordable. And then a train to Prague for your final 3 nights before a flight back to London for your flight home. Those train tickets are fairly cheap if you buy them at least two months in advance, and the train is by far the best way of getting between all of those cities. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Luisa says:

Roger my husband and I are planning a trip to Europe for up to 10 days. I would rather go when the weather is not to hot. I would like to go to Spain, Italy and Greece and maybe Switzerland. Is it possible to do it all by train and still be enjoyed? Will we have enough time? We have never been to Europe, what itinerary would u suggest?
Any help is much appreciated!

 

    Luisa,

    If you’ve got “up to 10 days” I’d suggest choosing 3 cities to visit because it takes a good chunk of a day to get from one to another and if you visited 4 or 5 cities you’d be spending half of your vacation on trains or in airports. Another option that you might consider would be to fly into Barcelona for a couple days before departing on a 7-day cruise that will also stop a couple times in Italy.

    But if you don’t want to do a cruise and you want to travel by train, which is the best way as long as the places are close enough to each other, your options are more limited. Since this is your first trip you might just focus on Italy, which is fantastic for 7 to 10 days including 1 or 2 nights in Venice, 3 nights in Florence, and 3 nights in Rome. The train rides between those cities are about two hours each, so it’s very efficient. To include Spain AND Italy it’s best to fly between the countries because the trains that run between them are still very slow (and flights are cheap). Unless you speak Spanish reasonably well I think Italy is a better choice for a first trip to Europe because more people there speak English.

    The limited train service into Greece is very slow so it’s best to fly in and out. I’d save that for a future trip.

    If you had 10 days you could do 7 days in Italy starting in Rome then Florence and then Venice, and then take a wonderful train ride through the Alps to Interlaken in Switzerland for 2 or 3 days. You can read more about that on my article about Switzerland. The train ride from Venice to Interlaken is about 5 hours and it’s very scenic. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     

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