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



35 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

     

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