First trip to Europe? Focus on these 5 great cities rather than cheap ones

Not long ago, I scrolled down the homepage of this website – priceoftravel.com – and noticed that almost every article had the word “cheapest” in the title. This is what happens when you run a site dedicated to researching and reporting travel prices, and certainly there is a demand for these lists and prices.

Also recently, a friend of mine who’s never visited Europe asked me which cities I recommend for a first trip. Only then did it occur to me that I actually think it’s important to start with the truly great cities first, even though they tend to be among the most expensive. In other words, articles like the cheapest cities in Europe might encourage people to go to some places for what could be the wrong reasons.

Start with Europe's greatest cities, and work out a budget from there

For those of us who are traveling constantly it’s easy to forget that most people are lucky to visit Europe (assuming you live elsewhere) even once in their lives. Sure, many people are inspired by a first trip and will continue to gp back and explore, but others don’t have the time or the means, and their first trip might be their only trip.

For that reason, and also to help the chances for that inspiration leading to later trips, I recommend first-time visitors begin in the most famous cities, in spite of high costs and crowds.

Suggestions for your first trip to Europe

Due to the unexpected popularity of this article and the many questions in comments about first-time itineraries, I’ve created a new and detailed article with all of my best suggestions.

>>>9 Best itinerary ideas for your first trip to Europe

Europe's 5 Great Cities for visitors

1 – London

The only town that can compete with New York City for the title of Capital of the World, London is where everything comes together. And obviously as an English-speaking city (mostly), it’s among the easiest to begin adapting to the culture and style of Europe.

The main downside to London is that, until you know where things are, it feels like the most expensive place on earth. There are ways to keep London cheap if you really have to, but at first it’s probably not a bad idea to splurge and just go with the flow. Fortunately, all of the famous museums are free to enter, and there are several new free walking tours to choose from, so it’s getting a bit easier to keep expenses reasonable.

  • Backpacker Index: US$69.35 per day

2 – Paris

Definitely more intimidating than London, and also far more beautiful, Paris is a city that so many people gush over that you might assume there’s no way it could live up to the praise. Then you go to Paris for yourself and you start gushing yourself. Walk for thirty minutes from anywhere near the city center and you’ll keep seeing buildings and bridges and public art that will make you want to start checking apartment prices.

Every city has problems, even Paris, but it’s hard to imagine anyone being sorry they visited. While Paris is an expensive city, it’s actually a bit easier to keep costs down, mainly because the extensive Metro system means that you can still have a great and convenient time if you stay in a cheaper hotel outside of the main tourist center.

  • Backpacker Index: US$79.04 per day

3 – Rome

Unlike London and Paris, the city of Rome does actually seem to have a group who’ll tell you to avoid it. Rome is frustrating in many ways, with crazy traffic and a sense of disorganization that is hard to adapt to, but there’s also no denying that it’s one of the world’s greatest and most important cities.

It’s easy to tell people to avoid a city once you’ve been there yourself, but no one gives points to those who would brag about never visiting a city because they heard it was too crazy. With Ancient Rome, the Coliseum, and the Vatican just for starters, Italy’s capital is worth the hassle to see it at least once, and many people love it so much that they keep returning. Hotels in Rome are weirdly expensive, but other costs are reasonable, and it’s totally worth it at least once in your life.

  • Backpacker Index: US$80.38 per day

4 – Venice

Some cities are really beautiful from certain vantage points or certain angles, but Venice is beautiful from all of them. As a touristy city for several hundred years now, the biggest problem with Venice is the crowds it attracts. Even in winter, the main pedestrian routes can be so packed that it frustrates nearly everyone. And in summer, they are worse, of course.

Even though hotels in Venice tend to be quite expensive, the best way to visit is to spend at least one or two nights on the main island. You’ll find that early mornings and evenings are far less crowded, as most groups head to the mainland to sleep. Venice is also small enough that 36 hours is plenty of time to see the best bits, so it’s worth a one-night splurge for a good location.

  • Backpacker Index: US$90.26 per day

5 – Amsterdam

Some people might not put Amsterdam on this short list of great European cities, but plenty of people agree with me that it’s another of the world’s most beautiful and interesting places. Most of the city center is perfectly preserved from its beginnings in the 17th Century, and it’s been quite wealthy ever since.

Many cities around the world boast that they have more canals than Amsterdam, but except for Venice, none are nearly as stunning. Add in the way bicycles dominate the landscape, the weirdness of the Red Light District, and its pleasant overall nature, and Amsterdam is worth a visit in spite of its relative high prices for most things.

  • Backpacker Index: US$86.67 per day

Include the above cities as part of bigger trips

The 5 cities mentioned above are the ones that I think are the best and most dramatic introduction to Europe, and the most likely to inspire more trips, but I wouldn’t recommend just trying to see these 5 and then heading home. Depending on budget, season, and trip duration, you could add or subtract many other worthwhile cities to make the perfect itinerary.

If you’ve traveled all over Europe yourself, do you agree or disagree with the cities selected above? I can’t think of another that deserves to be in this top tier, but I’d imagine that other people might have other ideas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All Comments

  1. Felicity says:

    Hi Roger,
    So glad to have found this site. My husband and I would like to start planning our first trip to Europe for this summer. We only have 5 nights and of course we want to visit so many places. Our friends are recommending Paris and Barcelona. A few questions:
    1) First, is it crazy to visit both cities with only ~6 days?
    2) Another thought is to stay in Paris and take day trips. Would you recommend this? If so, what are a few great day trips from Paris?

    Thanks so much for your help!

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Felicity,

      I highly recommend staying at least 3 nights when visiting any of these larger European cities. That gives you two full sightseeing days in each place and 1 travel day going between them. If you spend only 2 nights in one city, it’s really only one sightseeing day, and the next day you have to check out of your hotel and you won’t see much. So if you can do 6 nights total I think you’ll have a great trip. If you can only do 5 nights I’d probably stay in Paris and do a day trip or two.

      The most popular day trip from Paris, not including Disneyland Paris, is Versailles, which is only a bit outside the city. Here’s a better list of Paris day trips than I could type here. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  2. Cassie says:

    Hi Rodger,
    Love that most of these suggestions are on our list!
    My spouse and I are planning a Europe trip in Sept 2017 for 3 weeks. We came up with a rough itinerary including (in order):
    Ireland
    London
    Amsterdam
    Brussels
    Paris
    Venice
    Greece
    Does this seem reasonable in that amount of time with still feeling somewhat relaxed? Can you suggest a city for both Ireland and Greece (rather than Rome, we would prefer something more sea side) & possible itinerary with time frames for each city?
    Thank you

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Cassie,

      Your itinerary looks quite good and 3 weeks should be enough time for most or all of it. I’ll go over it one at a time.

      For Ireland it’s probably worth a day or so in Dublin, but then you can take a train or rental car to one of the smaller and more charming towns. Galway on the west coast is very nice and easy to reach with the Cliffs of Moher nearby. Kilarney a bit to the south is another classic destination for a quicker trip to Ireland. You probably want to spend at least 4 or 5 days in Ireland if you can, and skipping Dublin altogether isn’t a terrible idea.

      London is best done in 3 or hopefully 4 days, but that should be enough. From there you can fly or take a train to Amsterdam, and stay there for 3 nights.

      I’m not a huge fan of Brussels because the historic center is small (although very impressive) and most of the rest of it is built for business and government workers. I prefer Bruges, which is an hour away by train. You could spend an afternoon in Brussels and then take the train to Bruges for 2 or 3 nights.

      Paris is similar to London in that 3 days is needed and 4 days is better.

      You’d want to fly from Paris to Venice because the train would take a long time and cost a lot more. Venice is small enough to enjoy in about 24 hours, and it’s also so crowded that it’s easy to tire of it after 48 hours, so one or two nights is best.

      If you want to visit Greece it’s recommended to stop in Athens for 2 or 3 days, as it’s one of the world’s most historic and interesting cities. After Athens most visitors to Greece will head to one of the islands for some relaxation. If you want to do that then Santorini and Mykonos are popular options that are easy to reach by air or ferry. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      1. Cassie says:

        Thank you so much! Now this being both our first trips in Europe, do you have any advice on how to get started with planning. Do you recommend booking all accomadtions and flights ahead of time or leaving some wiggle room in case of any change in plans? Appreciate all your tips/advice.

        1. Roger Wade says:

          Cassie,

          You should probably start looking at airfares to Europe about 6 months in advance, and be ready to buy about 4 months before you go, or whenever you see fares that look good with good connection times. That is how you’ll get the lowest fares.

          For hotels in September you could book at the last minute and still be okay, but the best and cheapest places with the best locations tend to get booked first. So if I were you I’d book most or all of my hotels at least a month out. In many cases you’ll be able to do a hotel booking with no cancellation fee, so there isn’t much risk as long as you keep track of everything.

          For trains it’s best to book about 3 months out, as the fares start low and go up as more seats are sold. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  3. Jill says:

    Roger,

    Our family of four (two teenagers) are looking to travel Europe July 2017 for 14 days to celebrate our 20th annivesary. Would like to explore England, France and possibly Italy. We love food, wine and new experiences. Any suggestions of possible itineraries or can’t miss experiences? I love to plan and intend to make the arrangements myself. Would also love lodging advice. We tend to stick five star hotels in the states, but would rather spend the money on food, wine and experiences on this trip. We so appreciate your guidance. Thanks, Jill

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Jill,

      This isn’t exactly my specialty, but I’ll try to help. For food and wine experiences you’ll want to focus on France and also Italy. I’d still plan on 3 or 4 days in London, and they do have excellent restaurants there to go along with the famous attractions. But then I’d take the Eurostar train to Paris for at least 3 or 4 nights. In Paris and most of France, it’s hard to get anything less than a fantastic meal. And really good wine starts at reasonable prices as well.

      After Paris you could head to Burgundy or Bordeaux or one of the other wine regions in France if you want smaller towns and countryside. Or you could head to Nice, on the Mediterranean coast, for excellent dining and the ability to visit Cannes and Monaco in 30 minutes by train as day trips.

      If you want to also visit Italy you’ll get excellent food and experiences, but the wine industry and winery visits aren’t quite as high-end as France. The quickest Italy visit that I recommend is one night in Venice, two nights in Florence, and 3 nights in Rome. If you have more time you could add another night in Florence and maybe one more night in Venice. Let me know if you have any other questions, and I’m sure there are many other good resources for ideas for what you have in mind. -Roger

  4. Haley says:

    Hi…looking to travel to Europe in November/December of 2017. Where in Europe would you recommend during that time period? I don’t mind being a little cold, but I would prefer to avoid the rainiest cities.

    Thanks!!
    Haley

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Haley,

      Fortunately, there are few places in Europe where winter rain is a constant problem, perhaps aside from the notorious drizzle in much of the UK. Still, the inland countries in Europe can be very chilly that time of year, and you’d probably be better of saving them for another trip.

      Paris is so wonderful and has so many indoor attractions that I recommend it any time of year. Aside from that I think you’d be best of focusing on Italy, namely Rome, Florence, and Venice. And if you have more time you could spend some time in Sorrento to visit Naples, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast.

      Warmer still is Spain. Madrid and Barcelona are both excellent cities that are different from one another. Valencia is another cool place to visit while you are there. Seville, Granada, and Toledo are the other main highlights. If you have even more time you could stop in the Malaga area along the Costa del Sol. It won’t be beach weather, but it will be warmer than elsewhere. And if you have time you could also visit Lisbon, which is a real gem with nice weather that time of year.

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

      1. Haley says:

        Roger,

        Thank you for the suggestions! It’s good to know that it’s not too wet this time of year. Paris is definitely a must, it’s been my go-to dream trip since I was a kid. Good to know you recommend it! Thanks for all the help, will definitely keep your page in mind as I continue the planning.

        Haley

  5. Valerie says:

    Hi Roger!
    I will be traveling to Europe for the first time with husband our toddler and 65 yr old mom. We are flying into London dec 28 and out from Paris Jan 11. (Booked this way due to lower flight rates) would love to visit Rome & Barcelona as well ( and IF there’s extra time possibly visit Venice or Madrid ). Would you be able to to suggest an itinerary please. We would stay on London for NYE. Mom suggests we pay for tour/ hotel package but they are running about $3000+ per person which think I can find hotels and possibly do our own for much less. Any suggestions? Thanks so much!!!!

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Valerie,

      I’ll be happy to help. In the 14 days you have you should hit 4 cities, and perhaps a short visit to a 5th one. Three days per city is ideal for most European cities, as it’s long enough to see the main sights and short enough that you can squeeze quite a bit in to a trip. There are two easy and logical choices for this trip, but combining them together is a bit tricky.

      Your first logical choice would be London for 3 or 4 days and then fly to Madrid, then three days later take the train to Barcelona, and three days later take the high-speed train or fly to Paris for your final four days.

      The second logical choice would be to start in London for 3 or 4 days and then fly to Rome for 3 days and then take a train to Florence (you’ll love it) for 2 or 3 days and then a train to Venice for 1 day, and then a flight to Paris for your final 3 or 4 days.

      In other words, it’s very easy to combine Spain OR Italy with London and Paris, and both of them are wonderful. Being honest, Italy is a more popular choice for most first-time visitors and I do think it provides more bang for your buck, and much better food as well. But Spain is also wonderful and those two big cities are quite different from each other, and quite lovely. The weather in Spain might also be a bit nicer than in Italy, though not by much. In Spain you’ll encounter some situations where the person you are speaking to speaks little or no English, so if you know Spanish it can help. That is less likely in Italy, since its tourism industry is powered by English-speaking tourists, so English-only is a bit easier there.

      If you did want to do Rome and Barcelona on the same trip you could do it. You’d be flying between all of your cities, except for perhaps Barcelona to Paris by train if you like. The European train system is wonderful and a lot of fun. That ride in Spain is only 3 hours, and in Italy those rides are each around 2 hours, so you still have a lot of sightseeing time left.

      You definitely don’t need a package to do a trip like this and you’ll save a lot of money planning it on your own. I’m happy to help you sort out more of the details once you lock down your itinerary. The train journeys and flights are cheapest if you book as far in advance as possible, so I’d try to get those booked soon. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

      1. Valerie says:

        Hi Roger!
        Thank you so much for your quick and helpful reply!
        My husband and mom really want to go to Barcelona and I want to go to Rome so I think we are going to try the last option. Ideally I would love to do that Italy/Florence/venice easier combo but since we might not be able to visit Europe anytime soon after I want everyone to be happy. You mentioned a train from Barcelona to Paris. What is the train called and will that be better than flying? Would it be wishful thinking to add Venice for one day before or after Rome? I can spend two days in Rome. Fly or train? After searching hotel rates obviously the closer to London city center the more expensive. We could technically get two rooms for the price of one if we stayed further. Do you think that during NYE it’s better for us to to stay closer to Big Ben etc. We don’t have tickets yet to the fireworks but would like to see them even if it’s from afar. Not sure if there’s a lot of traffic or hassle to stay further due to holiday. (We live in LA traffic is a nightmare and metro gets packed ) people have mentioned getting a train pass but since we are going to different cities (flying) which pass would it be worth it? yes I agree I could save money by planning separate. I was thinking of doing a hop on hop bus for a day where we go. Sorry for so many questions! Im hoping to book everything sooner vs later for deals! thanks so much for your help!

  6. Paige says:

    Roger,
    It looks we are going to Europe for 3 months. It will be my husband, 2 year son and i. I’m wondering if we should start in the UK and head east, and fly home from budapest or should we start in budapest and end in the UK/Ireland? Would it be more than enough time to see greece, budapest, italy, france, London? I would love to add spain and amsterdam, but with a 2 year old i keep trying to keep us from moving every 3-5 days. Any input would be greatly appreciated

    Thanks
    Paige

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Paige,

      Part of my answer about which direction to go in would depend on what time of year you are planning this for. Budapest has fairly harsh winters and it can get quite hot and somewhat uncomfortable in summer. London and most of the rest of the UK has fairly mild winters, and mild summers as well. So with that in mind, you might want to go in a direction that maximizes your good weather.

      The other side of that, however, is that London can get really expensive for hotels in summer (because it’s the only decent season), while Budapest is much cheaper all year. Also, Greece typically means a stop in Athens, which is a pretty good year-round city, and a stop on one or more of the Greek Islands. Those islands mostly operate between early May and late October. If you visited outside of those months you’d be almost alone and disappointed.

      Another factor that I consider, if weather isn’t an issue either way, is that I personally prefer to stay in the expensive places first and end in the cheaper places. It’s a strange phenomenon that if you get used to US$5 dinners early in the trip and near the end you are paying US$15 for pretty much the same thing, it can be frustrating. On the other hand, it can be really fun to do it in reverse. So if weather isn’t a big issue, I’d start in the UK and head east from there.

      If you have 3 months in Europe you’ll have more than enough time for everything on your list. If your 2-year-old allows you to change cities every 4 days on average, which is reasonable, then you can visit about 22 cities. You could visit 2 or 3 cities in the UK and even a week in Ireland (don’t stay long in Dublin though), and you could visit 3 or 4 cities in Italy, and 2 or 3 in Spain, and 2 or 3 in France, and Amsterdam, and 2 places in Greece, and still have time for Budapest.

      I’m happy to help you further on this, so let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  7. Amit says:

    Thanks a ton Roger! If you have some hotel/apartment options in these locations please do let me know.

    Many thanks again for your friendly suggestions!

    Amit

  8. Anit says:

    Hi..planning our first trip to Europe in mid june 2017 for 15 days and need some help with planning. Our itinerary must include Switzerland as that has been on my fathers bucket list. We will be traveling from Singapore..a family of 6. What cities would you recommend we include and in what order so that I can check multi city flight options accordingly ? I have read that London requires a separate visa and if that’s true then we might skip London and focus on other cities. thanks in advance!

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Anit,

      If you want to save the UK for a future trip, you can still have an excellent visit to Europe. And if you definitely need to include Switzerland, I will provide my best recommendation below.

      I’d fly into Paris and spend 3 nights there. Then take a train to Interlaken in Switzerland for 2 or 3 days. Then take a train to Lucerne for 1 or 2 days. In other words, I recommend 4 nights in Switzerland, and 2 or 3 of those nights in Interlaken. See my article about where to go in Switzerland for the specific details on how to plan that.

      After Switzerland you have 8 days left, so take a train from Lucerne to Venice. That journey will take 6 hours and 48 minutes, and it’s amazingly scenic.

      Spend 1 night in Venice, as you can see the main sights in less than 24 hours, and Venice is so crowded that spending more than that can start to give people a headache. Then take a short train ride down to Florence for 3 nights, and then finally another train to Rome for the final 3 nights.

      That trip is filled with many of Europe’s best highlights and allows enough time in each place. Buy those train tickets about 3 months ahead of time and you’ll find that the fares will be surprisingly low. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      1. Amit says:

        Thanks Roger…appreciate the response! I’m sure I’ll have more questions as I wrap my head around the logistics and I thank you in advance for indulging me. Some quick questions

        1. Would you say that the difference in scenery in Lucerne outweighs the logistics of traveling from interlaken to Lucerne?
        2. If we do include Lucerne and considering that we are going to be covering few legs of train travel.. Paris-Interlaken-Lucerne-Venice..is it good idea to buy rail pass or individual tickets? Would you recommend a website for train tickets or for buying attraction tickets?
        3. Depending on inbound flight tickets, if I find tickets to Zurich cheaper as opposed to Paris.. would it be worth starting from these as opposed to Paris and in that case logistically would you do Paris immediately after Interlaken/Lucerne?

        I will review your article on Switzerland in detail…would you also have good recommendations for reasonably priced hotel/apartment for the 6 of us in Paris/Florence/Venice/Rome?

        Ps. Btw just curious that despite Florence not being in your list of top 5, I notice you’re suggesting more time there as opposed to Venice? Just want to make sure I’m reading it correctly.

        Thanks a ton!

        Amit (pardon typo in previous message)

        1. Roger Wade says:

          Amit,

          It’s my pleasure to help.

          1. If you have 2 or 3 days in Switzerland, I’d just focus on the Interlaken area. If you can spare 4 days I’d add 1 or 2 days in Lucerne. They are very different from each other. Interlaken is where you get the best Alpine views and experiences, and Lucerne has a stunning location on a beautiful lake with plenty of other sights and attractions nearby. It just depends on how much of your trip you want to do in Switzerland.

          2. Rail passes tend to be best for trips longer than two weeks where you also want to make plans as you go to some degree. For a trip like yours you’ll be best off planning your whole itinerary in advance. And if you buy train tickets 2 or 3 months in advance, they’ll be cheaper than any rail pass as well. The tickets for domestic Swiss train rides are always the same price, but the others are cheaper the earlier you buy. The best site for most of these will be sbb.ch, which is the official Swiss rail site. For the tickets in Italy you should use Trenitalia.com, which is the official Italy rail site. For the ticket from Switzerland to Italy you should be quoted the same price on both, but comparing them is still probably wise just in case.

          I’d start in Paris and then go through Switzerland on your way to Italy if you can. If you started in Switzerland and then went to Paris, the train ride to Italy is nearly a full day. You could fly from Paris to Venice, however, so that’s something to consider. You’d miss the amazing Alpine scenery of the train from Lucerne (or Interlaken) to Venice though.

          Italy’s “Big 3” cities are Rome, Florence, and Venice. Rome is a bit hectic but it’s packed with great sights. Venice is small and very crowded, so it’s best to spend only 1 or 2 nights there. Florence is the heart of Tuscany and in between the other two. It’s less crowded and hectic than the other two, and it’s also packed with top sights. So while Florence might not make my Top 5 in Europe list on its own, it’s a wonderful stop on any tour of Italy, and it’s conveniently right between Rome and Venice.

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

  9. Cliff says:

    Hi Roger, I’m thinking about traveling to Europe next year with my wife. I came across a “Best of Europe in 21 days” tour on a very familiar Europe traveler’s website. You know guy I’m talking about, right (His name rhymes with Stick Reeves? Anyway, his tour includes: Amsterdam, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, and France. It also includes 4 of the 5 cities you listed (no London). I was wondering if you think if that particular tour is a good value at $5,000 per person + airfare? I don’t mind paying top dollar for something valuable but I don’t want to get ripped off. I think you’re much better equipped to make a call than I am. Thanks for the article, and thanks in advance if you have time to respond! 🙂

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Cliff,

      I’m a big fan of Rick Steves myself, although I’ve never done any of his tours. I’ve never heard anyone say that his tours are extremely overpriced or a ripoff of some kind, and I’ve always assumed that the quality is fairly high.

      That said, US$5,000 per person does seem high for 21 days on the ground. That is obviously just under US$500 per day for two people sharing a room, although it also includes breakfasts, probably many other meals, attractions, tour guiding, and trains between cities. Really it boils down to how keen are you to be guided in this way. Many people love it and prefer it, and if it sounds like something you’d enjoy then I’d think this Rick Steves tour would be a great choice.

      However, if you planned all of this independently you could do it for far less with unlimited freedom. You can get perfectly acceptable and well-located hotel rooms in all of those places for around US$200 per night for two people including breakfast. You might spend more in Switzerland and Venice, and a bit less in other places. Traveling through these cities is very easy, even if English is your only language, so you can have great experiences without worrying about a language barrier.

      Personally, I absolutely love planning these trips and improvising a bit while I’m there. But for some people it feels like a huge chore. I’m very confident that you’ll love the trip whether you go with a tour or plan it yourself, and you’d even be able to afford some splurges by doing it yourself because you don’t have to pay a tour guide or the company they work for. And speaking of Rick Steves, I’m a huge fan of his books and have used them on my first trip to pretty much all of these places, so I highly recommend buying his books or ebooks for the planning process. As he says, the US$20 you spend on a good guide book can save you US$1,000 when you are there, including all the time savings. You can get electronic versions of his books on sale for around US$10 each at times, and that would be money very well spent.

      If you do end up planning your own trip, I’m happy to help if you have any questions. -Roger

  10. stephen says:

    hi rodger, id like to see your itinerary for things to do and see in each of these cities. ones that are touristy must sees and also the ones that are must dos that maybe aren’t so touristy.

    Also id like to know your thoughts on a separate Ireland, Scotland type trip.

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Stephen,

      Without knowing your tastes I couldn’t type out an itinerary, and I generally don’t do that anyway because it’s so personal. I’d check the wikitravel.org page for each city, as well as lonelyplanet.com and even TripAdvisor for ideas, and then focus on the ones that appeal to you.

      For example, in Paris, you’ll obviously want to photograph the Eiffel Tower, but I’m not much of a fan of the experience of going up in the thing. Many people would disagree with me though. And in Amsterdam, the Van Gogh Museum is very popular, yet I’m not really a fan of his popular works, so I find it disappointing. The Reichsmuseum is fantastic though. If you have any specific questions I’ll be happy to answer or give my opinion.

      As for Scotland and Ireland, they are quite different from one another. In Scotland you’ll want to go to Edinburgh, which is really an excellent city for tourists for 2 or 3 days. After that the best place to go is Inverness, which is a lovely town and also the gateway to the Scottish Highlands. You can take many different tours from Inverness, including ones to the Isle of Skye. It’s also just a bit north of Loch Ness, and that might be one of the world’s dumbest tourist destinations. It’s a very deep lake, though not very photogenic. And if you don’t believe in the Monster stories, it’s just a hustle and waste of time.

      In Ireland it’s worth spending one or maybe two days in Dublin, but Dublin is not nearly as interesting as most people expect, and the rest of Ireland is lovely and charming. So the advice there is to spend only a day or two in Dublin and then head to Galway and the sights around there, or Kilarney or Cork, or any of the other smaller towns. Renting a car for a tour of Ireland’s scenic areas and small towns is ideal, although you can see a lot on train or bus trips as well. Again, let me know if you have any questions. -Roger