Suggestions/advice for 2-3 European vacation
Replies: 13 - Last Post: Feb 27, 2013 12:43 AM Last Post By: bjd
Feb 21, 2013 8:13 PM
Suggestions/advice for 2-3 European vacationHello,
I'm hoping to get some recommendations on a trip I'm trying to plan for me and my girlfriend. She is finishing law school and taking the bar in July. We are looking at trying to do a trip to Europe in August to celebrate. I have used and loved the Lonely Planet books when I visit germany by myself so I figured this is the best place to ask for help in making sure this trip is great.
She gave me a list of cities she'd like to try to visit. I'm trying to figure out where the best place to fly into/out of would be, best way to get around between the places, how long to stay each place, and things to make sure to see (and everything else that is involved that I might be forgetting). I have lots of hotel and airline points that we were going to use as much as possible.
The cities she would like to visit are:
I'd like to see Prague too.
I'm looking for any suggestions/help/advice on:
1) Better/other city suggestions
2) How long to spend where
3) Order to visit/travel around cities
4) Better dates to do trip
5) Suggestions of things to do in cities
We were thinking on trying to do trains/car everywhere so that we can stay longer in one city of we decide to. I was think of trying to go:
London, Paris, Barcelona, Geneva, Matterhorn, Florence, Rome (then either fly out from Rome or travel to Prague/Athens- these are what I need help/suggestions on). I want to make sure I don't try to put too much stuff in that we don't get to really enjoy anything/everything. At the same time I don't know if I'll get this chance again so I want to make the most of it.
Sorry if this isn't the right place to ask this question. Please let me know if there is a better place to ask.
Thanks in advice for any suggestions/advice/comments. I really appreciate the help in advance.
Feb 21, 2013 8:50 PM
1Hi and welcome!
How many days do you have available? I think this should be the first point. Then, assuming you came from the US, the first step should be try to find the best/cheap way to flight to Europe. So, in this way, you will have some fixed dates (day to came in, day to go back) and some place to be at the end in order to pick up the plane back.
And after that, we perhaps could help you out much better. In any case, in my opinion if you have around 30 days and you are thinking in going to 8 cities, means that you will have around 3 days for each place, which is a bit low for London, Paris or Rome in my opinion... I can understand that you want to see as much as possible, but it will be all rushed, moving from one place to another every couple of days, ok, it´s your trip, this is my thinking.
London could be a nice starting point, then train to Paris, after that to Barcelona and from there to Italy finishing in Rome. This could take you easily 25-30 days. Athens and Prague are quite out the way from the other places you mention, so probably the best way is flight to them from Rome?... It´s all in function of your time...
Concerning what to see or do, internet is full of information, so my advise would be go city by city and decide in terms of your time what you like to see more and choose. Then try to do a small itinerary or "to see list" of every day, and see if could be possible.
Feb 21, 2013 9:24 PM
"Suggestions/advice for 2-3 European vacation"
but I think you mean
"Suggestions/advice for 2-3 weeks European vacation"
Am I right?
7 places in 2 weeks is very cramped, you loose a lot of time to travelling from A to B, it means basically just one day per place. Or do you have 2-3 months?
Renting a car is nice but use that car for visiting the country side. Driving and parking in a city like Rome or Paris isn't fun. Big cities like Paris, Rome and London 'need' at least 5 days in my opinion but that is subjective. It depends on your interests and we don't know your interests. What nature do you want to see, only the Matterhorn, or more? Think about the balance between culture and nature. Big cities and small places. Again it depends on your interests.
Feb 21, 2013 10:43 PM
3London, Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Florence, Arthens, Prague - Count 3 days in each city + 3/4 days to go from one to the next as a minimum. Matterhorn is a mountain and not a town http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matterhorn
July in southern Europe is high season for tourism. June or September would be better, every thing is open and prices are lower.
Things to do in the cities - suggest to buy and read guidebooks from each place before going and find out by yourself in what you are interested. You also can use Google and/or Wikipedia of course.
Feb 21, 2013 10:58 PM
4How long I'd spend in each of these destinations to do them justice as a 1st time visitor:
London - 5 + 2 day trips to Oxford, Cambridge, Brighton, Warwick Castle, Stratford Upon Avon, Windsor Castle, Leeds Castle, Bath or Canterbury + jet lag recovery
Paris - same as London
Matterhorn - 1 day, mission to get to though, nowhere near anything else you have picked
Barcelona - 3-4 days
Rome - 4-5 days
Florence 2-3 days
Athens 2 days
Prague 2-3 days
Given the distances, you're gonna have to fly almost everything apart from London to Paris; you have no alternative, especially if this is only a 3 week trip. Personally I'd stick a max at 6 destinations if it's 3 weeks to do any particular bit justice.
Feb 21, 2013 11:38 PM
5AS #1 says..how long have you got?
If its two/three weeks,then I'd take the full three ;-)
And I'd leave out a couple of the places...the ones you (or your girlfriend) are least interested in.....or,if they are all the same for you,the ones that are out of the way (Athens).
Do you want to climb the Matterhorn or just look at it from below?
Feb 21, 2013 11:46 PM
6I would advise you to stay in one bigger region throughout your holidays. For instance Southern-Europe (Barcelona, Rome, Florence) or Western-Europe (London, Paris, Barcelona).
For instance, London, Paris and Barcelona are all worth staying at least 3 days. Including travel, this is already 12 days. Instead of rushing to another capital, you could use any days you still have left to visit to visit some smaller towns, the country side or natural parks. That way you see more of Europe than just the most well-known places and get a better idea of the continent, I would say.
Feb 22, 2013 2:29 AM
7I don't know why you want to visit just 6 big cities and 1 mountain. In Europe, most of the gems are between the big cities.
I suppose your first priorities are visits of cathedrals, churches, town halls, big museums, big museums and big museums. Otherwise you would have chosen other places. The Matterhorn is a foreign body in your list, however.
Count at least
5 days for London (without the "jet lag day")
5 days for Paris and surroundings
2 days for Barcelone
5 days for Rome, Vatican and surroundings
4 days for Florence and surroundings
6 days for Athens, Sounion, Delphi and Argolis
4 days for plane/train travel (door to door) between these places
and you will arrive at 1 full month, more if you add Zermatt/Matterhorn or relaxing boat travels between Barcelona and Rome as well as between Italy and Greece.
As to the order of the places you mention, I propose (after having had a look at fares of train and low cost plane tickets):
London - easyjet or vueling - Barcelona - vueling - Athens - easyjet - Rome - train - Florence - train - Chatillon - bus - Breuil/Cervinia (Matterhorn) - bus - Aosta - bus - Courmayeur Mont Blanc - bus - Chamonix Mont Blanc - bus - Geneva airport - easyjet - Paris.
Feb 22, 2013 6:57 AM
8!st I'd scratch Barcelona. It puts a big spur on the rest of your trip plans. Barcelona is also expensive as , wellaaa.
Do that and Spain and pleeeeaaase, Portugal, after she's lawyered for a while.
August is the heaviest touristn time of the year.
Its the only time I book ahead.
She's just getting over a stress test schoolin'. Wouldn't she like to relax? Europe will be there for ever. And trains go everywhere you want to.
Go for a European experience. Learn things not in school, by talking with foreigners at length. She'll be dealing with people. Go learn other p.o.v.
You can't use cars in cities. Many reasons. I live in Seville. I thank Hawd I don't have to own a car any more.
Have a great slow trip. Keep ears open. We only know about the most famous places. Good hotels don't nec. have stars, by the name.
www.bookings.com maps to, pictures of, rates.
*no lawyer joke zone.
Feb 26, 2013 9:38 AM
9Wow. Lots of replies! Thank you so much. Let me try to make sure I cover all them and give me detail after talking to GF more:
wateenmooiedag- You are correct. Should have said weeks. I'll fix that if I can.
lucapal/qablo - We are looking at 14- 21 days. I miss typed that in the original post
It looks like from everyone's comments and suggestions that we had too much in the list. We talked it over and Italy is the must important of what she wants to see. We are going to take off Barcelona Prague, and Athens for sure.
That takes us down to London, Paris, Zermatt, and Italy. Now she said London would be the next to cut. I feel we could easily make 3 weeks just covering Italy, Switzerland and Paris (I know I'm saying countries not cities). I only really wanted to do the hovercraft but that is the biggest draw for me compared to the other uses of the vacation time. Has anyone done the hovercraft before?
We kind of want to do a mix of culture and nature. So I was thinking of Paris (culture),Geneva/zermatt/interlaken for nature, cities in Italy (suggestions beyond Rome and Florence- Venice? Anything else?) for culture.
I previous did a trip to Switzerland and based out of Interlaken doing day trains to Bern/Lucerne/Basil/Zermatt/Jung-fou (not a relaxing 6 days). I was thinking of doing the same thing again but base from Geneva or Interlaken and just "hang out" in the Alps instead of trying to cover whole country in a whirlwind.
From the suggestions it sounds like:
Paris 5 day min to see things at a "relaxed" pace.
Geneva/Interlaken 4/5 days of relaxing in Alps
Rome- 5 days
Florence- 3 days
Venice- 2 days
That puts us right at 20 days. Seems like should all be do-able with rail passes/public transit.
I found this suggestion of a trip:
Any thoughts on his suggestions? I was thinking of using it as a temple and just dropping the Germany/amsterdam parts.
Next is coming up with day trips or things that are "hidden gems" or "overlooked".
THANK YOU so much for the help and suggestions. Please keep them coming.
Feb 26, 2013 10:39 AM
10Hovercraft? You mean the one from Dover to Calais that stopped service over a decade ago? :-) Take the Eurostar train under the channel instead from London to Paris.
Paris is fine
As for Switzerland, Geneva needs one day. I'd bin Interlaken and stay in one of the nearby villages. Pick from Grindelwald, Murren, Lauterbrunnen or Muerren. Interlaken is a convenient transport hub, but rather uninspiring in itself despite it's fabulous setting.
The rest of the trip is fine except for getting from central Switzerland to anywhere in Italy - it's a mission by day and there's no convenient night train - the best you could do is overnight in Milan near the train station (you'd miss nothing in my opinion in Milan by lingering further). I'll leave you to examine timetables via http://www.bahn.co.uk.
Instead it may make sense to retreat back to Geneva, Zurich or Berne airports and fly down to Italy - either to Venice and head down to Rome, or to Rome and head up to Venice. A list of who flies where can be found at http://www.skyscanner.net - they have an excellent search engine under the widgets at the bottom so you can figure out prices on the particular day of travel.
As for day trips,
Ex Paris consider a trip to Versailles.
Ex Interlaken pick from Schilthorn, Jungfraujoch, boat rides around Brienzersee or Thunersee, or simply go for a nice walk such as this random example: http://wanderland.myswitzerland.com/en/routen_detail.cfm?id=339141. Don't bother going to the top of the mountains if the weather is crap because mist at the top of the mountain is the same as mist at any altitude - you see nothing - check it first before buying a ticket and have a plan B to stay down in the valleys if you're outta luck.
Ex Rome consider Ostia Antica, Frascati, Orvieto, Tivoli, Naples or Pompeii (the last 2 are a bit of a hike).
I wouldn't bother with day trips from Florence or Venice, stay in town.
Feb 26, 2013 12:47 PM
Feb 26, 2013 1:46 PM
Feb 27, 2013 12:43 AM
13OP I suggest you take your friend's suggestions with a grain of salt if he has any others besides the hovercraft. I took it once years ago and it was like sitting in a particularly noisy airplane without the view. You couldn't even get up and walk around. Its only advantage was speed compared to the ferries, but much less pleasant.
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