2 Months Solo in Western Europe
Replies: 21 - Last Post: Nov 16, 2012 12:24 AM Last Post By: lucapal
May 14, 2012 7:02 PM
2 Months Solo in Western EuropeHi everybody,
First time poster, long time reader here. I'm looking for some input on a two-month itinerary backpacking Western Europe. I know there are tons of itinerary threads already, and believe me I've read them all in order to build my own. I think I have a solid, realistic plan and have done my research, but please let me know where I've fallen short.
I'm 24 years old, traveling solo from Dublin in late August and leaving Romein late October (I'm from USA btw). I'm interested in a little bit of everything, a lot of outdoors, history (not so much art but I'll give it a shot), and of course the night life.
My itinerary is mainly large cities. The biggest thing I"m looking for help with is identifying good day/two day trips from those cities, or good stops along the way, or even alternatives to the large cities.
So, here it is. I haven't bought tickets yet so nothing is locked in, but I am planning on it in the next week or so.
Also, budget is not an issue. Just time.
8/26 - Arrive in Dublin (5 days in Dublin, day trips to Cork, ?)
9/1 - Dublin to London (4 days in London, day trips to Cambridge, Essex, ?)
9/6 - Train to Paris (4 days in Paris, Loire Valley)...I know, not long...again not big on the art
9/11 - Train through Brussels (quick stop) then to Brugges (2 days in Brugges...Belgian beer = must)
9/14 - Train to Amsterdam (2 days)
9/17 - Train to Berlin (2 days)
9/20 - Train to Prague (3 days)
9/24 - Train to Munich (4 days) OKTOBERFEST
9/29 - Train to Interlaken (4 days)
10/4 - Train to Florence (3 days)
10/8 - Train to Venice (3 days)
10/12 - Train to Cinque Terre (2 days)
10/15 - Train to Rome (4 days)
10/19 - Flight out home
I'll be grabbing a Eurail Global 10 Day/2 month pass which should be perfect. Originally I extended the trip from Rome to Madrid/Barcelona but it seemed too cramped, I think this is more realistic.
The only things really locked in are entry/exit days and semi-locations.
Thanks in advance for the help, I"m looking forward to being able to contribute to this forum after I've learned from my own experiences in the Fall!
May 14, 2012 9:43 PM
1This itinerary doesn't leave you much time if you want to explore these cities and make a day trip. If time is the major issue, you'd do yourself a favour if you'd spend less of it travelling to yet another big city 6 or 7 hours away, and focus on a smaller geographical area.
A few specific comments:
- Cork seems a bit far from Dublin from a day trip. Consider Kilkenny and/or Glendalough instead. Most of Ireland's most impressive sights are found on the west coast, by the way (not feasible as a day or 1 night trip)
- even if you're not into art, 4 days in London and Paris is just enough to scratch the surface of these cities
- haven't been to Berlin myself, but consensus seems to be that you need at least 3-4 days
May 14, 2012 9:51 PM
2P.S. apart from beer, you don't mention anything about your interests. Your current itinerary is - no offense - entirely made up of the same boring list of cities many non-Europeans seem to consider "musts" (which is a ridiculous concept, btw). Within a 50km radius of all of these places you'll find several less famous and overrun places that are equally or even more rewarding.
It makes more sense to spend some time thinking about what you think you'll enjoy seeing/doing, rather than following the herds from Interlaken to Cinque Terre to Amsterdam. You mentioned Belgian beer, for example; if you're a beer lover, there are hundreds of Belgian, German or Dutch brands to sample, often directly at. the brewery. Problem is though, that you won't have time for that if you allow 2 days in each country.
May 14, 2012 11:02 PM
May 14, 2012 11:06 PM
41) Agree re the Cork being a bit far for a day trip thing - it's about 2.5 hrs each way. 5 days for Dublin is a bit OTT, even with a day trip to Cork.
2) 4 days in London is fine, but you'd need more days to do any day trips as central London can happily keep you occupied for 4 days. Why you wanna go on a day trip to Essex is beyond me, but Cambridge is a good shout.
3) I would chop a day from Prague and add it to Amsterdam
4) I would chop a day from Interlaken and add it to Amsterdam
5) I wouldn't stay in Interlaken at all but nearby Grindewald, Gimmelwald, Murren or Lauterbrunnen - Interlaken sucks.
6) I would book your accommodation for Oktoberfest ASAP - some hostels are likely to be fully booked out by now.
7) Your Italy itinerary's a bit of a weird way round.
8) Interlaken to Florence is gonna be a serious mission. It's by far quicker in the day time (just 6.5 hrs), but that of course chews up a day's travelling.
9) If you're doing Amsterdam to Berlin, either fly it or book the night train. The night train is popular and gets reserved out, so do it in advance. Supplements apply for sleeper or super fast trains.
I think you ought to chop one or 2 destinations more. There's no time allowed (probably) for downtime - 8 hrs sleeping, 1.5 hrs gaffing about (shower, orientation, decision what to do today etc), laundry, calling home, hangover recovery, checking out, getting to a train station, travelling to next city, getting to next hostel, checking in. This is a surprisingly big chunk of travelling, especially with someone moving as fast as you.
Suggested next steps - 1) Read http://www.seat61.com closely if you haven't already to learn about how trains work 2) Check out http://www.bahn.co.uk to figure out likely travel durations between each destination.
May 14, 2012 11:32 PM
5Good point by Fwoggie, your route around Italy is quite weird.
Your going from Florence to Venice, then to Cinque Terre and ending in Rome.
Just a question, don't get mad or defensive, do you actually know where Cinque Terre is? (Of course you do now, since you'll google it) Because your route would suggest you don't know where it is, since your going from Florence way out to Venice then back towards Florence, Cinque Terre is a bit north of Florence.
It would make much more sense to go from Venice to Cinque Terre then to Florence and finally to Rome.
Are you just going to Cinque Terre because Rick Steve's suggested it and you consider it a 'must-see' even though you don't know where it is? Is that the reason?
May 15, 2012 12:01 AM
6For the places I know about, I agree with the others on here.
5 days in Dublin is too much and Cork is too far for a day trip. As Aribo suggested, either Glendalough, which seems popular as an outing, or just take a city bus to Howth or a commuter train to Wicklow.
4 days in London is fine, even without any day trips. The big museums are free, so you can drop in for a while to see whether you might like art after all. If not, avoid Florence.
4 days in Paris is good too, but not with day trips. It's a city to keep you busy without leaving. The Loire valley is to see Renaissance-style castles, so if that's not your primary interest, stay in Paris. If you want "outdoors", there are two big parks east and west of Paris: Bois de Boulogne, Bois de Vincennes.
If your main interest in Belgium is the beer, go to Brussels or Antwerp. Have a look through TT with the search engine and several threads about Belgian beer come up. Bruges is not as exciting as it seems here.
Both Amsterdam and Berlin need more than 2 days. Especially Berlin which is very big and doesn't have the typical "must-see" places grouped in a small area, like Prague. But if you are 24 and not especially interested in art, you might enjoy just wandering Berlin. Lots of night life there too.
No comment on Interlaken, but from what I have read here, it's a transit hub rather than a destination. Once again, do a search here for outdoor places.
Indeed, your Italian itinerary is rather strange. If you like the outdoors instead of art, why go to Florence? It's not obligatory on a trip to Italy.
Since you say money is not a problem, use your railpass to be flexible, rather than trying to get to all these places. You will meet people and want to do stuff with them, or just hang around a place you enjoy rather than thinking, "I have been here two days, I have to leave tomorrow."
May 15, 2012 12:12 AM
May 15, 2012 2:06 AM
8I love the 'day trip to Essex'!
Where are you thinking? Chemsford? Dagenham?
May 15, 2012 2:09 AM
9Anyway...I agree with most of the above.
You haven't got enough time in the cities you have chosen to worry about day trips.
If you are not into museums etc.then why not stay in some of the smaller places and leave some of the big cities out completely?
And if you want to visit the big cities...you will need more time in Berlin for sure.
May 15, 2012 2:10 AM
May 15, 2012 10:07 AM
11Wow, thanks for the comments everybody! Great advice all around.
As I knew would happen, I forgot a couple things. For one thing, I've been to London maybe 10 years ago when I was 14, so I'm okay with not seeing everything (even though experiencing something at 24 is a little different then 14 but regardless). So that's why I didn't give it a full week.
Cork I understand wouldn't be a one-day trip, I had a friend tell me I should consider it as a stop. Anywhere I listed "day trip" was just a list of ideas of either alternative cities OR day trips...I'll look at the other cities you recommended Aribo...I agree looking at this it looks "standard", no offense taken. That's why my biggest thing I'm looking for help with is alternative cities/towns, maybe to get off the beaten path.
Also I realize in hindsight my Italy itinerary doesn't geographically make sense. OF COURSE I KNOW WHERE CINQUE TERRE IS! Just kidding...when I cut out Spain I didn't rearrange the cities in the correct order. I chose Cinque to try to alternate out the large city streak, but it seems like over the years its been getting more "touristy". Alternative suggestions?
I've also heard Venice isn't great and Florence is, and vice-versa. Maybe cut one out entirely? My sister studied in Florence and said she spent a day in Venice and that was enough, not much to do.
I was surprised about what Fwoggie said about Interlaken, I will look into those other towns, thank you.
Anyways I'm at work, I'll take another more detailed crack at this and update it, thanks again guys, really appreciate your help.
May 15, 2012 10:07 AM
12I know there are tons of itinerary threads already, and believe me I've read them all
So what did you learn from all that reading? And how is it evidenced in your itinerary?
Dublin is probably the least interesting and friendly place in Ireland. I'd fly into the other major airport in ireland, the one further west whose name escapes me at the moment. Shannon! That's it!
Actually, since you have an extra night in most of your destinations ("2 days" usually means 3 nights the way you're counting), this wouldn't be too bad. If you hadn't mentioned the prospect of day trips. For which, as others have noted, you basically have no time.
Not big on art? Skip Florence.
And yes, if you only spend one day on Venice, there isn't much to do--except what everybody else who is in Venice for the day is doing. That's a lot of people and makes doing the same things with them not so much fun.
May 15, 2012 12:01 PM
May 15, 2012 1:21 PM
14paris day trips:
Fontainebleau: Fantastic chateau with beautiful gardens, lovely little village to stay in and a huge forest for hiking etc.
Auvers-sur-Oise where Vincent van Gogh died. Apart from his grave and a museum, the countryside is nice with good walks. There's also a small chateau with an exhibition on the impressionsts. The village is lovely.
Chartres one of the world's most prominent gothic cathedrals. The town sees lots of day trippers but quietens down at night to a typical provincial market town. Lovely half-timbered houses.
Rambuteau another impressive chateau in a nice village with nice gardens and extensive woods, including a 'wildlife' zone with boar and deer.
Chantilly another, your guessed it, chateau but this time with a fabulous art collection. Again, nice gardens, woods for walking/cycling and this is the only place where I can say from experience that bikes are for rent- at the local tourist office. The mews (horse stables) are huge and apart from containing a museum about horse riding there are still occasional horse races.
All these places are easily reached by local train and should cost about 8-14 EUR for a 1 way ticket to get to, and taking one hour max on the train. The villages are all picturesque and fun to wander around
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