France and Italy: Best 2 to 3 week itinerary for first-time visitors

The only country that might be more magical than France for first-time visitors is Italy, and vice-versa. Even though Europe is filled with amazing tourist destinations these two countries seem to stand above the others, with France being the most visited country in the world and Italy having the most UNESCO World Heritage sites. For my own money, these two countries contain 3 of the 5 great European cities that everyone should see first.

Fortunately, these two countries also share a border so they are extremely popular to visit as a pair. They both also get so many tourists that all the major destinations are easy enough to visit without knowing the language at all, though learning at least a few words and phrases is simple and worthwhile. For these reasons, France and Italy are perhaps the most popular first trip to the European continent. Below we’ll discuss the cities you need to include and the minimum time in each, as well as some other itinerary planning tips.

How many cities to visit?

This is perhaps the most challenging question when planning an itinerary. Newer travelers always assume that more is better and overly-seasoned travelers always preach that virtually any city anywhere deserves at least a week. As with most things, the best answer probably lies somewhere in between. If you only have two weeks per year it would take a lifetime of trips to explore even half of Europe at the slow pace, so it makes sense for newer travelers to move at a good clip.

There are many reasons why fast travel might be your best option, but only up to a point. With only a few exceptions, 3 nights per city is a good minimum even for those wishing to see as much as possible, or 2 nights in the smaller cities.

If you are going to France and Italy for sure then start with Paris and Rome as the foundation and add cities in between to the degree you’ll have time. France is a deceptively large country so travel will eat up some time unless you are flying or taking the bullet trains.

>>>Going just to Italy: Here are the best first-time Italy itineraries for 3 days to two weeks

Flying in and out

Unless you are starting from elsewhere in Europe, you’ll want to carefully choose which airport to fly into. It used to be that Paris was one of the cheapest, and it’s still competitive, but it doesn’t rank high on the list of European cities that are cheapest to fly into.

Two one-way tickets is ideal

It used to be that round-trip tickets were always much cheaper than two one-way tickets, but often that is no longer true. Sometimes the one-way flights are exactly half the round-trip fare, sometimes a bit more than half, and other times they are double. It’s hard to predict so it’s worth comparing them yourself.

The first thing to try is this:

  • (your city) to Paris one-way
  • Rome to (your city) one-way

Compare that to this:

  • (your city) to Paris round-trip
  • (your city) to Rome round-trip

If the two one-way flights are within US$150 or so of either round-trip, then they are your best option. If the round-trips are much cheaper then your best option is to buy one of those as well as a one-way flight between the cities (for around US$100) for just before you fly home. It would cost more on the train and also take 14 hours, so flying that last part is the way to go unless you are planning on using the last leg of a Eurail Pass on an overnight run.

Getting around once in Europe

Flying around in France and Italy doesn’t make much sense. The flights on low-cost carriers can certainly be cheap, but most major cities are only 2 to 5 hours apart by train, so riding the rails is faster, more pleasant, and far more scenic.

Even on trains, you still have three main options:

  1. Buying a France-Italy regional Eurail Pass
  2. Buying individual train tickets in advance
  3. Buying individual train tickets one at a time when you get there

If you are under 26 you can qualify for the 2nd Class Eurail Pass, which will be ideal for many people. If you are over 25 you have to buy a 1st Class Eurail Pass, and those are probably only best for those with a bit more money to spend.

Best cities in France and Italy for first-time visitors

Paris (minimum 3 nights but even that is rushing it)

Obviously you’ll want to visit Paris, and it makes sense to either start or end your whole journey here. If it’s your first stop you should add at least one extra day to help deal with jetlag, but you should plan on staying as long as possible because the French capital is one of the world’s great (and most beautiful) cities by any definition.

Paris can seem very expensive at first glance, especially when you see how tiny your hotel room is once you arrive. But those on tighter budgets don’t actually have to spend a fortune to enjoy it thoroughly. If you are the sort who loves all the famous museums then a Paris Pass could be a perfect option, but even if you just drift around town admiring the scenery you are guaranteed to have a good time. Better still, there is a Metro station on every other block, so you can stay in the cheaper areas far from the center and it only adds 10 minutes or so each way.

Paris to Nice by train: About 6 hours

Nice, France (minimum 2 nights)

Nice is the largest (and cheapest) city on the Côte d’Azur (AKA French Riviera) so it’s the perfect base to explore this stunning part of the world for a few days. It can still be quite expensive during July and August, when most French are filling their own beaches, but in other months it’s not too bad.

Nice has a famous beach (made of pebbles rather than sand), but it’s also an important cultural capital with great museums and a thriving food scene. You could easily spend 2 or 3 quick days in Nice alone, but you might also consider spending a few hours in Cannes and/or Monaco, which are both only about 30 minutes away by train in either direction. The cheaper hotels in Nice are near the train station anyway, so that’s something to consider if you want to visit all 3 places in one short trip.

Nice to Milan by train: About 5 hours
Nice to Venice by train: About 7.5 hours

Milan (1 night or just skip it)

Milan is famous, though that alone is not enough of a reason to stop there. If you skip it you won’t be missing much, or you might stop for one night just to break up the journey a bit. On the plus side, Milan has one of Europe’s most photogenic gothic domes at its heart, and it’s the home to Da Vinci’s Last Supper (if you make reservations well in advance).

The down side, however, is that Milan is mostly a business/financial city that isn’t as charming as the rest on this list. It’s one of Europe’s fashion capitals as well, but the casual visitor wouldn’t notice. Worst of all, accommodation in Milan can be insanely expensive if there is a trade fair or event in town. If you are coming through in between fairs and events, hotels can actually be unusually cheap, so it’s worth checking rates if you are considering stopping.

Milan to Venice by train: About 2.5 hours

Venice (1 night minimum, 2 nights maximum)

Certainly one of the most beautiful and unusual cities on the planet, Venice is something that everyone should see, though it can be a bit tricky. The thing is, between about 10am and 5pm every day of the year, the main walkways in Venice are a slow-moving parade of more tourists than seem possible or even safe. Many of them stay in hotels nearby on the mainland, while many others just come in for the day on part of a bus tour. The point is, Venice is very frustrating during those hours, so to appreciate the city it’s important to work around them at least a bit.

The trick is to stay at least one night, if not two, on the main island itself. Perhaps surprisingly, Venice shuts down early, with most restaurants and bars closed by around 10pm. But in those evening hours as well as the morning hours on the following day, the place can feel magical and like a fairy tale destination. Venice is also quite compact so seeing the main highlights in 24 hours isn’t difficult. Depending on your budget, spend one or two nights on the main island and you’ll be quite satisfied by the time you leave. You’ll be sick of the crowds by then anyway.

Venice to Florence by train: About 2 hours

Florence (2 nights minimum, plus side trips)

With fewer than 400,000 residents, Florence feels more like a small town than the others, even though it’s much larger than Venice. As the largest and most central city in Tuscany, Florence is a cultural capital filled with famous museums, cathedrals, and other sights, but it’s also the ideal jumping off point for day or overnight trips into some of the nearby hill towns.

Whether you are coming from Venice or from Rome, this is the point on your trip that you’ll be able to catch your breath a bit. It’s also the cheapest city on this list so lingering here will be more affordable in addition to relaxing. The cuisine here is, of course, world famous, and it can get even better and cheaper if you spend a day or two in one of the many scenic villages in this part of Italy.

From Florence to Rome it’s only around 90 minutes by train, so another easy and pleasant travel day.

Pisa (a few hours on a day trip at most)

If you are spending several weeks exploring Italy then perhaps you’d want to spend a night or even two in Pisa. But for a quick trip where you are trying to include as much as possible, Pisa is best for a day trip. It’s about an hour by train or bus from Florence, so you can literally do it in half a day there and back. And being honest, the Field of Miracles (which includes the Leaning Tower) is definitely worth a look, but the rest of Pisa doesn’t really stand out.

Regardless of your starting point, you can go to the Pisa Centrale train station and walk about 25 minutes to the Leaning Tower area, or take a train to the Pisa San Rossore train station and 7 minutes to the Field of Miracles. There are also bus tours from Florence that take you all the way there, but those come with the slowness of large-group travel.

Cinque Terre (1 night, optional)

If you were to be spending all 2 or 3 weeks in Italy and saving France for another trip, then you’d want to considering spending at least a day and perhaps a night in this stunning little group of 5 towns perched on rocky cliffs overlooking the sea. They are on the west coast a bit north of Florence, so they are a bit out of the way if you are headed to Rome. Of the 5 towns, Vernazza is probably best for a short visit and it’s definitely the most scenic.

When you see a photo of these villages it’s hard not to be drawn in so if you are in that group you could add a day or two in this area either before or after Florence. Note that the scenic footpaths connecting the towns are partly closed down at times due to instability, so a quick tour by train or even by boat might be a better option.

Florence to Rome by train: About 90 minutes

Rome (minimum 3 nights)

Again, it makes the most sense to start and end your visit in Paris and Rome, and if you are starting in Rome you should add an extra day just to get your footing. Similar to Paris, Rome is crammed with amazing sights too numerous to mention, but unlike Paris, Rome can be a frustrating place to visit. No one regrets their first visit to Rome, but many swear that it’ll also be their last. It’s the traffic and general sense of chaos (multiplied by the summer heat) that wear on visitors.

All of that said, Rome is absolutely a must-visit, although you won’t be blamed for hustling through the city quickly and efficiently so you can spend more time in the relative serenity of anywhere else. The Eternal City is also quite expensive, especially by Italian standards, which is another reason to save only a few days there rather than a full week.

Naples/Pompeii/Sorrento/Amalfi Coast (optional up to 4 nights)

The “big 3” in Italy are Rome, Florence, and Venice, and if you have time for only 3 cities those are the obvious ones to choose. But if you want to dig deeper into Italy and you have enough time, your next best choice will be to base yourself in Sorrento and use it to explore Naples, the ruins of Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast, and the island of Capri.

Naples is a large and gritty city that has an unfortunate reputation for pickpockets and other street crime. In reality, any daytime visitor who uses the typical precautions will be fine. Naples is also famously the birthplace of pizza and home to one of the world’s best archaeology museums so it’s worth a day trip for sure. The great news is that Naples is very easy to visit from nearby Sorrento, which is a lovely and friendly place where most people know English.

Stay in Sorrento

To reach Sorrento you’ll take a train to Naples and then change for a one-hour local train (known as the Circumvesuviana) to its final stop. Once you are checked into a hotel there, you can take the same train back to Naples, or an even faster boat. Halfway back on the Circumvesuviana you can jump off in front of the stunning Pompeii Ruins. Those in a hurry can spend half a day in Naples and a couple hours seeing Pompeii and be safely back in Sorrento for an unforgettable dinner.

Amalfi Coast and the Island of Capri

Not only is Sorrento the perfect base for a visit to Naples and Pompeii, but it’s also the gateway to the Amalfi Coast and a short ferry ride from the touristy island of Capri. On a quick visit you can hop on the local bus in Sorrento that takes you through Positano and Amalfi to Salerno. You’ll see all the famous and amazing Amalfi Coast views, and you can return either by bus or boat for an ideal day out.

The other main nearby attraction is the famous tourist island of Capri, which is best known for its Blue Grotto attraction. The ferry from Sorrento only takes 20 minutes each way and leaves hourly most of the day. This is another easy and ideal day trip where you can have breakfast and dinner in Sorrento and a wonderful time in Capri in between.

Filling in the rest of your itinerary

If you have only two weeks total then the above minimums will also pretty much be your maximums, give or take a day. But if you have three weeks you will be adding days to these cities or adding new cities altogether. Honestly, if this is your first trip to these countries, you’ll really get the most bang for your buck by adding extra days in Paris or Florence or both.

Rushing around for two weeks can be exhilarating, but rushing around for three weeks can really start to get exhausting. It’s better to plan to go slower and if you are getting bored you can do a day or overnight trip to something nearby. But you won’t get bored, and if you do you are probably doing it wrong.

Cinque Terre photo by World Walk About on Flickr

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  1. Marianne says:

    Hi Roger,

    I’m making my way through your very helpful replies! We are a family of 3 and will be travelling for 3 weeks in July–that’s when we’re able to travel due to work & school –flying into Paris, and flying out of Rome 3 weeks later. We’re really want to explore the south of France before heading to Italy. Train from Paris to ??, not sure where yet but would love to see Arles-Avignon–someplace on the water/optional–someplace further west, heading to the Pyrenees? So we’re wondering if a good home base could be decided upon and we can drive and take day trips from there. Then we’ll have to decide where to go in Italy; considering the Riviera in the north, Venice, and not sure where else, but we don’t want to be too rushed. When my husband and I did a similar trip for our honeymoon, which was also for 3 weeks, we only did Paris-Aix-Santa Margherita-Venice-Florence(day trips)-Positano. Getting to Positano was a hassle but I don’t recall exactly why. Can you help us with our itinerary a bit? Thank you! Marianne

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Marianne,

      This sounds like a wonderful trip. France is a tricky place to visit in July and August, as you probably know. Most of the office workers leave the cities for a full month in that period and if they can afford it they head to a beach. Nice is the best base in the south of France any other month of the year because it has good connections and plenty of reasonably priced hotels, but in those months it will be crowded and hotel rates will be at their peak. Some of those office workers and store clerks head to country cottages instead of beaches, so many of those areas will be crowded as well. The cities are just about the only places where crowds are smaller than normal in those months.

      And then there is the issue of driving and parking. I normally recommend people take trains to get around in France, but if you want to visit wine regions or national parks then driving can be best. I’d think that a town like Avignon won’t be too crowded during that period, but I’m unsure about many other places you might use as a base. I think if I were you I’d check hotel rates in Nice and some other larger places and see if you find deals that look appealing. You might have to check a few different cities and hopefully you can find something that looks good. Mostly people book near the beach because they want to be near the beach, so finding a home base for day trips is a little tricky. Sorry I’m not more helpful on this.

      All of the beach areas in Italy will also be jammed in July, and Italy doesn’t have many long, sandy beaches in general. The beach season in Europe is literally July and August, so it’s usually best to go elsewhere if you are visiting in those months. But again, the cities tend to be less crowded than normal, so you do have options. Positano is lovely, but you have to take a suburban train from Naples to Sorrento and then a bus or taxi from there, so it is a bit of a hassle. I don’t really have any good advice for Italy either, pretty much for the exact same reasons as France. Again, it’s probably best to just check rates and see if the places you want to visit have reasonably priced rooms or rentals. I wish I could help more. Best of luck with this. -Roger

  2. Zein says:

    Do you have any suggestions on which site to use to book for train for France and Italy? What clothes to bring?

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Zein,

      It’s best to buy European train tickets online from the official site for one of the countries you’ll be in. I cover all of that with links to the official sites in this article on buying European train tickets in advance. I’m not a good source for clothing suggestions, but you can find that on many other websites. Try Googling it and you’ll find great advice. -Roger

  3. Steven says:

    Hello there!

    I’m more interested in which things we should we our do in the intinery below since we have limited time in each place. We’ll be traveling very light, carrying just one small backpack.

    We ‘ll be flying into Marseille around noon and out of Pisa in the morning. Two short flights from Brussels 🙂

    Marseille 1 night (2 days)
    Nice 2 nights
    Genoa 1 night
    Florence 2 nights
    Pisa 1 night

    Any suggestions for a couple. Should we include Monte Carlo and Cinque Terre on the ways to Genoa and Florence respectively. The pls is to just see te field of miracles in Pisa late in the evening and go to bed for our early flight.

    We ‘ll use rail all the way lightly packed. We ‘ll limit rail travel under 10 hours. Any gems a should consider? Thanks in advance

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Steven,

      I’m happy to help make itinerary suggestions for where to go and how long to stay, but I don’t like to make sightseeing suggestions because tastes and budgets are so different. Marseille isn’t really a tourist city, although I’m sure it’s interesting if you want to see a large French city known for its immigrant neighborhoods. Nice is really lovely and while you are there you should definitely consider visiting Monaco, as it’s only about 20 minutes away by train. Monte Carlo is a small neighborhood within Monaco, which is tiny itself.

      Genoa isn’t one of Italy’s top tourist cities either, so you might consider staying longer in Nice or Florence, since a 2-night stay in either is very short. I would skip Cinque Terre because you are already rushing around more quickly than most people prefer. You could potentially take the coastal train from Genoa through Cinque Terre on your way to Florence. You could get off the train in Vernazza, which is the most photogenic of the five towns, and walk around for an hour or two before hopping on another train. It’s small enough that in two hours you’ve seen the whole town and will be ready to go.

      For your longer train rides it’s cheapest to buy your train tickets online as far in advance as possible. But for your local trains like in Cinque Terre they are the same price no matter when you buy, so you can just get them when you get there. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  4. Roni says:

    Thank you very much Roger. You provided very important details. The information about the alternative airports is greatly appreciated.

  5. Roni says:

    We are a group of 8 traveling to Paris & Rome for the first time in July 2018. There are 2 seniors, 4 adult females and 2 kids (ages 10 & 15). We have 6 full days & nights available for touring excluding our arrival and departure days. We are flying in and out of Paris (CDG). Can you please recommend a 6-day itinerary for both cities, including how best to get to and from Rome?

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Roni,

      I can help with the basics, but I prefer not to make suggestions for how to spend each day since tastes and budgets are all different. Really it’s easy in that you should spend 3 nights in Paris and then fly to Rome for the remaining 3 nights. The trains between those cities take over 10 hours so they are much slower than flying and the trains generally cost more as well. It’s worth noting that Paris and Rome each have two major airports. In Paris it’s Charles de Gaulle that has most of the international flights and the major airlines, but Orly Airport (which is a bit closer to central Paris) has more of the low cost flights within Europe. In Rome it’s the same in that Fiumicino is the main airport and Ciampino has most of the cheap flights. Let me know if you have any other questions. I’m sure it will be easy to find plenty of great things to do in each city. -Roger

  6. Soumen says:

    Hi roger,

    I am planning a two weeks Europe trip in the month of May- June. Wish to visit France, Italy and if possible Spain. I am based in Bournemouth and will be travelling with my wife and an 18 month old baby. Could you please help me plan the trip specially the interconnect trips and hotel stay.? Should I follow the trip plan mentioned in the blog as is or anything else needs to be considered given that I have a kid travelling with me. So that you know I will be needing a schengen visa, so should I apply for the visa after making all the bookings or vice versa.

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Souman,

      In France you obviously want to visit Paris for at least 3 nights and perhaps even 4 nights. The shortest visit to Italy that I recommend is one night in Venice, three nights in Florence, and three nights in Rome. If you did the shortest version it would leave you 3 to 4 nights left in your two weeks. Personally, I would save Spain for another trip because including it on this trip would mean flying in and out anyway, which you can do easily from the UK. I’m not sure how much more trouble it is to get a Schengen visa for a second trip, but hopefully it’s not too bad. Also, the shortest visit I recommend to Spain is 3 nights in Barcelona and 3 nights in Madrid, so two weeks wouldn’t be enough to even do the shortest visit, and Spain has so much more to see when you have the time.

      So I think it’s best to get to London and then take the Eurostar train from St. Pancras to Gare du Nord in Paris. After 3 or 4 nights in Paris you could take a train down to Nice for 2 or 3 nights, as it’s a great place to enjoy the French Riviera including Monaco and Cannes on a modest budget. From Nice you can take a train to Venice in a bit over 7 hours, but flying might be better with the young one. If you skip Nice you can fly directly from Paris into Venice (or nearby Treviso). You can enjoy Venice in about 24 hours, but if you have two days it could be nicer.

      Then take the 2-hour train ride from Venice to Florence, and stay there at least 3 nights. Not only is Florence a wonderful tourist city itself, but it’s also a good place for a day trip to Pisa or Siena or the Cinque Terre or to some of the nearby hill towns. After Florence you can take the 90-minute train to Rome for 3 or 4 nights. Then you’d want to fly from Rome back to the UK because the train would take forever and cost a fortune.

      I don’t think you need to alter your plans much for the baby. All of the trains you’ll be taking are the comfortable Intercity trains that have adequate space even for a stroller, and should also have baby changing stations on at least every other carriage. Those trains are very different from the typical UK trains and especially the local trains along the south coast. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  7. Shelley says:

    Great site, I’m so glad I found it! Could you please advise me on our itinerary for two weeks in May with our four boys ages 13-21? I do t feel like it’s very efficient and I have a couple kids that want to go to an island or beaches in Italy and I’m not sure how to add it in or what to eliminate.
    Day 1 Arrive late in Rome with 10 hour layover in London
    Day 2,3 Rome
    Day 4 Pompeii (add beach time?)
    Day 5 Vatican/Rome
    Day 5 Train to Florence
    Day 6 Florence
    Day 7 Train to Venice
    Day 8 Venice
    Day 9 Train or fly to Paris
    Days 10, 11 Paris
    Day 12 Versailles
    Day 13 Travel to London
    Day 14 London
    Day 15 Depart London

    I’m also uncertain about buying a Paris pass. Maybe a 3 day? Thank you for any advice.

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Shelley,

      I’ll try to help. Visiting Pompeii from Rome would take most of your day and I don’t know of any good way of adding beach time. There aren’t many sandy beaches in Italy anyway, as most of the coast is cliffs or mountains, although there are some sandy beaches for sure.

      From Venice it’s best to fly to Paris. The trains take a long time and are more expensive than flying anyway. You can fly from Venice Airport or nearby Treviso Airport pretty quickly.

      It would be better if you had 3 nights in London (unless you’ve been there already), as those it’s a huge city with so much to see, but all of your other stops are excellent destinations as well so there isn’t anything easy to cut. Unfortunately, there are no convenient beaches or islands that you could visit easily on this route. As I said, sandy beaches are rare in Italy. On the other hand, they are old enough that I’m sure they will enjoy and appreciate almost all of the main sights. Things like the hop-on, hop-off bus tours and river tours are fun for young people.

      As for the Paris Pass, I think it’s a great idea if you are planning on doing enough of the included sights. Have a look at my full Paris Pass review for my thorough advice. The short version is that I highly recommend the Paris hop-on, hop-off bus during the day, and the included Seine cruise a bit after dark, whether you get a Paris Pass or not. Both of those are really excellent and worthwhile tours on their own. If you also want to go to the Louvre and a couple other highlights, the Paris Pass pays for itself pretty quickly. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  8. Helen says:

    Hi Roger
    Thanks for your site-very helpful.
    My partner and I want to go to Italy and include the French Riviera from this September for about 5 weeks.
    We want to do a drive holiday- what do you think about that?
    We thought about starting in Nice then to lake Como, over to Venice then down. I want to see cinque terra and the Amalfi coast etc
    Could you advise your recommendations?
    Or if you could suggest any other sites that may be helpful.
    We did wonder if we could hire a car in Nice and leave it in Sicily or somewhere down south.
    Thanks

    Thanks

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Helen,

      That sounds very nice, but I’ve never driven myself in Italy and I’m not sure how much help I’ll be. Nice is a very compact city and you’d either have to pay a pretty high fee to park each day, or stay at a hotel well outside the center that might have free parking. And if you did that you’d have to pay to park when you drove into town or to Cannes or Antibes or Monaco. It would be better to go to Nice and travel around by train and bus and taxi, and then rent a car when you are ready to leave.

      Lake Como is also quite dense and the popular villages along its banks won’t have much free parking either. And of course Venice is a car-free island, so you’d have to park in a large lot on the mainland and then commute in on a train or ferry. Cinque Terra is similar to Lake Como in that it’s 5 small villages that were built long before autos, so parking will be difficult and/or expensive. The Amalfi Coast is also similar. The towns there are built into the side of the hills and there are only a few roads, and very little parking.

      The public transportation in Italy is so good and so inexpensive that I don’t see much of an advantage of driving. It will also be stressful to drive around Italy because the signs can be confusing and the drivers there are notoriously aggressive. I don’t want to seem so negative about renting a car, as in some parts of Europe it can be far better to public transport. But I’ve been to all of the places you mentioned and I would absolutely do public transportation for that kind of trip. I’m not sure how much this helps, but feel free to ask other questions if you have them. -Roger

  9. Michelle says:

    Thanks Roger,
    That makes a lot of sense. So many places and so little time! Will put Nice on the list for next time. Thanks for your advice. Much appreciated.
    Michelle

  10. Michelle says:

    Hi Roger,
    What a great site you have and such a wealth of knowledge!
    We are travelling to Europe from Australia at the end of August next year. First time to Europe so feeling very excited and daunted at the same time.
    We have booked a 10 night cruise leaving from Rome Travelling to
    Sicily
    Malta
    Mykonos
    Rhodes
    Santorini
    Athans
    Naples
    and then returning to Rome.
    We can only be away a little over 3 weeks so my plan is to arrive in Rome a couple of days before the cruise.
    We arrive back in Rome on the 10th Sept and have about 7 days before we head home.
    I would also like to see Venice, Florence Nice and Paris. Do you think this is doable ? If so how long would you stay in each city and what order would you recommend.
    Michelle

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Michelle,

      Your cruise looks wonderful. You should be able to do most of your list before and after the cruise. My recommendation would be 3 nights in Rome, 3 nights in Florence (although 2 will do), 1 night in Venice, 2 or 3 nights in Nice, and at least 3 nights in Paris. So if you can do your Rome visit before the cruise, you could come back and then take a 90-minute train ride to Florence for the remaining part of the trip. The train to Venice is less than two hours.

      One tricky thing about including Nice in your plans is that the trains from Venice take a bit over 7.5 hours to reach Nice and then another 5 hours 40 minutes from Nice to Paris. Since you will be rushing a bit, that might be longer than you want to spend on trains. Neither one of those is exceptionally scenic, although they aren’t boring. If you decided to skip Nice on this trip you could fly directly from Venice (or nearby Treviso) to Paris and you’d have more time to spend there. That is probably your best bet, especially if you only have 7 days after the cruise. If this is your first visit to Europe I would make it a priority to spend at least 3 nights in Paris. You could rush a bit in some of the other cities, and hopefully you’d have 3 nights in Rome as well. As always, let me know if you have any questions. -Roger