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First time to Europe - touring advice

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Hi all,

Looking to plan a Europe trip for next year around September. It would be myself (24) and my grandmother (64), and hopefully my mom (45) - so there is quite the spread of ages. We have always wanted to do a Euro trip together - we are all fit and good travellers. In terms of interest areas - we are all into cultural/historical treasures Europe holds, so we'd like to experience and see as much as possible in each place without trying to cram an impossible amount of things into unrealistic timeframes. So here are a few options we'd thought of - your thoughts would be much appreciated:

1. Starting from UK, head to France and then Italy, spending about 1-1.5 weeks in each country travelling around - this would require more planning on my part, but we're thinking this may allow us to see more/alter the trip to spend time specifically where we want to go. Would also most probably be using public transport as none of us has been to Italy/France and not too keen on driving.

2. Land tour - looked at a few of these - enjoy the value for money aspect, and that every things planned for you, but noticed on the forums here it can be hit and miss in terms of actually getting to see and experience a place.

3. We've also looked at a Christmas (river cruise) - we're aware this is a totally different track than the options above, but the one's we;ve looked at sound so temptingly unique and charming - looked at Albatross tours (land), Uniworld, Celebrity cruises (Tauck and Scenic are a bit too pricey for us)

Apologies for the lengthy post, but it seems the info I can give, the easier it would be for people to offer suggestions.

Thanks again!

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