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Europe Itinerary Help!

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My boyfriend and I are planning a 3 week Europe trip this summer, starting preferably around August or early September. We are currently located in Portland, OR. So far, the best flight prices seem to be in September, however I want to make sure the weather isn't too cold or horrible while we are there, as this will be both of our first times in Europe. We are budget travelers and don't have too much of a preference as to where we start, but it seems that Amsterdam or the UK are the best prices for flights out of Oregon. We will most likely only carry with us a carry-on/backpack so that we can stay in hostels or fly within Europe if need be. Here is our rough draft of the itinerary we have so far IF we fly into Amsterdam:

Day 1: Travel from US to EUR (possible stop in UK? or Direct to Amsterdam?)
Day 2-3: Amsterdam
Day 4: Travel to Paris, with a possible stop in Belgium??
Day 5-7: Paris
Day 6: Travel to Rome
Day 7-8: Rome
Day 9-10: Florence
Day 11-12: Venice
Day 13: Travel to Munich
Day 14: Possible stop in Austria??
Day 15-17: Munich
Day 18: Travel day to Frankfurt
Day 19-20: Frankfurt
Day 21: Travel back to US

*I am aware that some of these "travel days' are only a few hours driving or even shorter flights from city to city, but that would just give us more time in the next city.

*Our final destination depends on which flight is cheapest back to the US, but we thought going in a counter-clockwise direction hitting all of the countries would land us somewhere in Germany.

QUESTIONS:
-We know we want to see Munich (especially if our trip falls around Oktoberfest. but should we see Frankfurt or Berlin for our final stop?
-We listed Belgium and Austria as quick stops/flyovers, but should we spend more time in each of those places?
-Should we spend less time in some of the places listed?
-Should we possibly change the order of the cities listed?
-Should we add any cities to the list that we haven't considered?

Thank you so much in advance for all of your help! We really appreciate any advice we can get!

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    You don't need to add cities, you need cut a few. Not only is moving around so much expensive, it also eats up your sightseeing time. Forget stopping in Belgium. I'd cut Frankfurt and forget about the stop in Austria. You have two or three days each in major cities like Paris, Rome, Amsterdam. I'd recommend a minimum of 3 days in each, that means 4 nights.

    Train travel is generally the most efficient, as you go from city center to city center.

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    Most definitely take that Delta flight to Amsterdam if you can, at least on the way over. It's a sweet flight - and awesome not to worry about delays connecting in the US. (flying home - who cares if you miss a connection? At least you won't miss any of your vacation!) Avoid going home through JFK though if you have that choice, even if it saves you a few bucks. There is no direct flight from PDX to London at this point unless you want to head up to Seattle - not worth it. Connecting in London isn't so much fun anyway if you can help it but not so bad to fly into/out of.

    September is a great time to travel to Western Europe, though of course it's one of the best months to be in Oregon, too. I'd go after Labor Day if you can.

    Don't cram too much into one trip. It's a rookie mistake to try to see all the biggest, most well-known cities all over Europe the first trip. I'd stick to one smaller geographical area. You could easily spend three weeks (or more) in Italy alone. Try not to see only the big capitols of Europe unless you are sure you are never ever going back. Pick a few of the marquee spots (e.g. Rome, Venice) and add smaller places (small towns, parks, etc.) along the way. It's easy to fly from Amsterdam to/from Rome, Venice, or Milan for example; Delta has partner flights on KLM. It's easy to train all over Italy and all through much of Europe.

    Or, you could do London, Paris, Bruges, Amsterdam, plus side trips in between, all by train. Fly into Amsterdam, maybe out of London.

    Or do Germany and Austria.

    I use Kayak to check flights even though I lean toward Delta for that Amsterdam flight. Sometimes it shows better KLM options that use that same Delta flight as a code share.

    I like booking.com to check hotels. I've also used hostel booking sites like hostels.com. You should consider AirBnB as well these days.

    I can't tell you where you should or shouldn't go, because I don't know what your interests even are and they may differ from mine. You can watch all of the Rick Steves Europe videos for free on Hulu online if you want to see what these various places are like. Sometimes I like to head over to Powell's and browse the various guidebooks and see what grabs my interest sometimes - even in the online age I find that helpful.

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    too much

    You can decide to use a car to get around Europe but with only two of you, with only a little luggage and with some of the cities having large areas where cars are NOT allowed or where parking requires skills to be honed over generations I would suggest you think more about trains (which is how most Europeans would do these routes).

    Start with seat61.com and bahn.de to get a flavour of what to do.

    You want to avoid the first 3 weeks of August, partially because it will be hot and partially because there will be half of Europe visiting the southern cities.

    Sept is pleasant enough though beach facilities in Italy may have closed down.

    I'll let others question the large number of cities you are planning to do. However, I would decide early on if you are including England and (please some one help me) why-oh-why do Americans love going to Munich? I've been twice and was un-impressed both times. If you do decide to go to Munich book your hotel room early as it is the conference centre city for that part of Europe and has massive steel halls in the outskirts which fill the local hotels on a regular basis.

    On the other hand you plan to pass from Munich to Frankfurt without seeing anything. Which is just crazy as that includes some of the prettier parts of Germany. If it were me I'd leave Venice and follow either the Danube or the Rhine towards Frankfurt stopping in lovely towns, drinking the local wine and beer, wandering in the hills and woods and having a grand time, but you want to go to Munich....(famous for a few stone cherubs..)

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    Your dates do not work.
    Day 5-7 Paris
    Day 6 travel to Rome. Can't be if you are in Paris on the 6th.

    Day 7-8 Rome. Can't be as you are in Paris on the 7th.

    Do you have 21 or 23 days on the ground?

    Spend more time exploring one area and see some small towns and villages. They give you not just museums and churches, but some of the culture and charm for which people go to Europe.
    Day trips of 30-40 minutes by cheap, local trains make this easy to do from major cities.

    Cut Frankfurt. Nice enough business city with a few nice sights, but, IMHO, many, many other cities have tons more to offer. With travel time to get there and the two days you allowed, that is three whole days you could put some place else.

    Personally, I would opt for Berlin over Munich. You do not have time for both, even if you cut Frankfurt.

    No "quick stops or flyovers" in whole countries like Austria. Waste of time. If you want to see a place, allow time to actually see something you will remember.

    If you want to see a bit of Belgium, you could train from Amsterdam to Ghent. Afternoon of walking, sightseeing. Next day, train to Bruges for a day of walking, biking, seeing windmills, etc. back to Ghent for the night. Train to Paris the next day.

    Add a day to Florence and see a couple of Tuscan hill towns, Sienna or Luca, etc.

    From Paris, see Versailles or other nearby sights.

    From Rome, Ostia Antica or Orvieto.

    From Venice, see Burano, Vicenza, Verona, Padua, etc.

    Google images of Bruges, Ghent, Sienna, Luca, Burano, Orvieto, etc.

    Cut your bases to three or four cities and surrounding areas or areas connecting the cities - based on your interests. Cities in Europe, especially in Italy, have more to see than you can ever imagine.

    Some of your travel times will be much longer than you think. Travel shorter distances. Spend less time getting there, much more time for seeing and experiencing.

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    Thank you all for your feedback!

    Kathie- Thank you for the advice. We agree on the train travel being the most cost efficient. We don't want to have to rent a car while we're there.

    Andrew- Which Delta flight were you talking about? It looks like all the Delta flights from PDX to AMS are in the $3,000 range! Iceland Air seems to be the cheapest rate we've found so far. Thank you for all of the links to valuable resources! I will definitely check those websites.

    Bilboburgler- We were only considering Munich IF we are there during Oktoberfest. Otherwise, we'd prefer to see Berlin over Munich since we have a limited amount of time.

    Sassafrass- Sorry for the confusion, I messed up on the days during Paris and Rome! Oops! We are shooting for 21 days, but 23 isn't entirely out of the question either. Thank you for the tips.

    We decided we packed too many places into this itinerary, so we are planning on taking out Austria and Belgium and the possibility of London. Our new itinerary will look like this:

    US>>Amsterdam>>Paris>>Rome>>Florence>>Venice>>Berlin>>US

    Now with that itinerary, how many days should we spend in each place factoring in travel days for a total of 21 days? We will be flying, taking early morning trains, and overnight trains if possible.

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    How long you "should" spend in each place depends on what you personally want to do in each place. It doesn't make sense to undertake an expensive, fast-paced trip like this and go to places that other people find interesting but which are of little interest to you. Most people who go to the cities you mention end up doing very different things. I have read 20 page "trip reports" from people who went to Paris and everything they did is something I would never spend my time doing in Paris -- and they said they were happy as clams! You can end up wasting a lot of time using other people's lists of what they think is a "must see". For some American tourists, the red light district and the drug scene in Amsterdam is a huge curiosity, others want museums, some people go to Paris and spend many hours of the day shopping and eating in trendy restaurants, others take boat rides or visit the parks. Some people avoid the Vatican in Rome and others race right to it. Berlin has got a whole world of things to do and see for people with different interests. Borrow some guidebooks from the library if you don't already have them and use travel websites to read up on each of these cities and pick what you want to do.

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    kara, Delta has one direct flight a day from PDX to AMS. In September the flight runs every weekday I believe (or almost every day). This has been our only direct flight from PDX to Europe for a few years now, though Condor Airlines said last fall they would start service from Portland to Frankfurt this summer. I'm not sure if that's real or still a go - haven't heard anything.

    I'm not sure which dates you tried, but I see a fare of $1434 round trip per person for various September dates (e.g. September 6 -24). You don't necessarily have to book that flight separately - on the contrary, if you are starting somewhere else besides Amsterdam, try to book an "open jaw" (multi-city) ticket and make Amsterdam the connection so you get that direct flight. If you are hoping to start in Rome for example, you can book an open jaw through Delta that flies PDX-FCO (Rome) via AMS and AMS-PDX home. That would be greatly preferable to PDX-FCO via say LAX. (not to say I necessarily recommend starting in Rome, just an example).

    I think it is worth an extra $100 or $200 for that direct flight to Amsterdam instead of connecting in say LAX, Dallas, Chicago, etc. (Not worth $500+ extra though.) I'd much rather get to Amsterdam first thing the next morning and take a connecting flight within Europe there vs. having to connect in the US (which would be more hours of flying) and risk a weather delay or something. I know if I'm in PDX and my flight is delayed, if it is to Amsterdam I'm not concerned, but if it is delayed to Chicago and that means I'll miss my connection I'd be very worried - I could be stuck in Chicago overnight. There are lots of other flights out of Amsterdam to cities within Europe all day, but not that many say out of Chicago or Dallas that would not delay the start of your vacation.

    To me, this is way early to be booking airfares for September - I rarely book more than six weeks in advance unless it is a frequent flyer ticket. I think the average traveler probably books a ticket a few months in advance, not necessarily eight months ahead. With plunging fuel prices worldwide, I wouldn't be surprised to see airfares to Europe come down in the next few months.

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