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3.5 weeks in Europe September (Italy, London & Paris) - Need route advice

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Hello experience travellers,

Me and my wife going to Europe in September and need advice on what's the best mode of transport and route to go about our destinations.

Here are a list of places that we would like to visit in Italy (in no particular order).
- Milan (1 or 2 nights)
- Lake Como (2 nights, stay in Varenna?)
- The Dolomites (unsure)
- Siena (unsure)
- Cinque Terre (2 nights)
- Florence (3 nights)
- Rome (3 nights)
- Venice (1 or 2 nights)

Lastly, we are are flying in/out of London, and Paris is a must for the missus.
- London (3 to 4 nights)
- Paris ( 4 to 5 nights)

Feel free to add in any places that you think is worth while visiting.

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    You would need a car for the Dolomiti and it is only worth going up there if you are certain of getting wonderful weather, which gets less and less certain past the middle of September. Also, it is time consuming to get to the Dolomiti, so unless you are planning on staying at least 3 nights, you might want to skip it.

    Le Cinque Terre is no fun if it is raining, and it is also not easy to combine with your other destinations, so you might want to take it out of your plans.

    But otherwise, everything in Italy you want to see is best seen by train. Looks to me like you are landing in Milan, and the way I might do your trip is:

    >Arrive Milan, take a private car transfer to Bellagio, 3 nights
    >Take train from Lago di Como to Milan, stow luggage in train station, see sights in Milan, take train to Venice for 3 nights
    >Take train to Florence, 3 or 4 nights, include daytrip to Siena by bus
    >Take train to Rome, 3 nights -- fly to Paris, train to London

    If you wanted to put 2 nights in le Cinque Terre in there, then go from Florence to le Cinque Terre by train, and from there by train to Rome


    If you very much wanted to see the Dolomiti, then I would suggest:

    Fly to Milan, go directly to Venice by train. 3 nights
    Pick up car, drive to Dolomiti, 3 nights.
    Drive to Lago di Como, 2 nights,
    Drive to Milan's Linate airport, drop off car, take bus to train station, stow luggage, see Milan sights, take train to Florence ..... and the rest of the trip by train

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    OK, stay first in London. If you're arriving after a long, overnight flight, allow an extra day or two in London to get over jet-lag. Take the Eurostar under the Channel to Paris. Get tickets now. They'll get much more expensive if you wait until close to your travel date.

    Fly from Paris to Italy. Easyjet flies from Paris Orly to Milan Linate or Pisa (for Florence) or Rome Fiumicino. And fly back to London for your flight home.

    (Next time get open jaws flights. Say, into London out of Rome. That costs about the same as round trip and saves time and money spent backtracking)

    You have 8 stops in Italy in about 15 days. Too much traveling, not enough time at any one spot. Two nights in one place means only one whole day there. And a lot of time spent checking out of your hotel, getting to the train station, traveling to the new destination, finding your way to your new hotel, and finding your way around in a new city.

    You need to pare down the number of stops and spend more time at the places you do go to. Don't worry; there's plenty to see at all these locations. Except maybe the Cinque Terre, where 2 nights/1 day is about enough. Rome needs more than 2 days, Venice more than 1. Siena you can see as a daytrip by bus from Florence.

    You notice I'm assuming you're using the train to travel in Italy. Train really makes the most sense for these destinations. You can also save money buying these tickets early.

    Another possibility is to reverse this itinerary. Upon arrival in London, fly immediately on to Rome and work your way north. Most long flights arrive early in the day. You can make best use of this first, jet lagged day flying on to the furthest point on your itinerary. Unless you're very sensitive to hot weather, I prefer this routing. It's a more efficient use of your time.

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    Thanks for your comments. Based on the feedback I've updated my course as such...

    Day 1 - Arrive in London (7am), fly to Rome
    Day 2 - Rome, sleep in Rome
    Day 3 - Rome, sleep in Rome
    Day 4 - Rome, sleep in Rome
    Day 5 - Travel to Florence, sleep in Florence
    Day 6 - Florence, sleep in Florence
    Day 7 - Day trip to Siena, sleep in Florence
    Day 8 - Day trip to Lucca, sleep in Florence
    Day 9 - To Cinque Terre, sleep in Vernazza
    Day 10 - Cinque Terre, sleep in Vernazza
    Day 11 - Travel to Varenna, sleep in Varenna
    Day 12 - Day trip to Milan, sleep in Varenna
    Day 13 - To Venice, sleep in Venice
    Day 14 - Venice, sleep in Venice
    Day 15 - ???
    Day 16 - To Paris, sleep in Paris
    Day 17 - Paris
    Day 18 - Paris
    Day 19 - Paris
    Day 20 - Paris
    Day 21 - To London, sleep in London
    Day 22 - London
    Day 23 - London
    Day 24 - London
    Day 25 - Departure from London (10pm)

    However, I'm a little uncertain between day 11 - day 15. Should I...
    Cinque Terre > Milan > Venice > fly to Paris
    Or
    Cinque Terre > Venice > Milan > Train to Paris

    I would probably enjoy the views with Mountains, lakes and sea side towns, more towards nature rather than historic buildings.

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    Instead of a day trip to Milan from Varenna, consider stowing your luggage in the Milan train station en route to Varenna, because you will be switching trains there anyway. Go see what you want to see in Milan and head up to Varenna at the end of the day.

    The only possible flaw I see with your plan is that if you have already booked tickets to London, and are now buying an independent air fare to Rome, then you need to figure out what you will do if your flight to London is so delayed that you miss your flight to Rome.

    Also, just to point out that if you would "probably enjoy the views with Mountains, lakes and sea side towns, more towards nature rather than historic buildings," why are you spending so much time in Italy's enclosed treeless art cities and not more time in nature?

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    I'd skip a second trip to Milan and go directly from the CT to Venice. Then I'd spend day 15 in Venice. You won't exhaust Venice in 1 day; if you do, take a vaporetto to the islands in the lagoon, Burano, Murano, and Torcello.

    To get to Paris I'd fly Easyjet from Venice Marco Polo to Paris Orly. The latter is a smaller, closer-in airport with good transportation options into Paris. However, there is an overnight train (with no changes) leaving Venice at 20:00 and arriving in Paris at 09:30. But you wouldn't be able to see much scenery at night. You'd probably see more of the Alps from the plane.

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