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From London to Italy - where to go?

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Hi everyone,

I'm planning a trip to Europe in October next year and am having a fair bit of trouble figuring out where exactly I would like to go. I'm coming from Australia so would like to make the most of this trip as it'll be a while before I get back! But I'm also conscious of packing my trip with too many places.
I have a month and would be traveling by train. I'm a fan of compact cities that are easy to explore by foot. I love being somewhere with beautiful scenery. I love places with lots of history and good food! Cheaper is also better. I am a solo female traveler and this will be my first time in Europe.

I'm after some suggestions for a travel route that will take me from London to Switzerland and eventually Italy (with a couple of stops along the way).
If everything was close together my ideal places to see would be: Salzburg, Lucerne, Prague, Ljubljana and a few places in Italy - but I'm aware that I won't get to see all these places without spending a lot of time on long trains (anywhere >6hrs is a bit much for me).

I'll be starting in London for a few nights with family before making my way over to Europe.
I'm thinking I'll start either at Amsterdam or Brussels. Amsterdam appeals to me because of the beautiful canals, but I feel it might be a bit busy.... I'm also drawn to Bruges as it is much smaller and seems just as beautiful (hence I might start in Brussels and do a day trip to Bruges).

I'd then like to go to Switzerland - Lucerne is a must for me. But I want to spend a few nights somewhere along the way to break up the travel time. I was thinking perhaps Strasbourg? Frankfurt seems a convenient stop but I'm not sure it really appeals to me... Are there any other suggestions for nice places between Amsterdam/Belgium and Switzerland?

Then after Switzerland I'll be heading to Italy (Pompeii is a must).

Alternatively I would love to do Amsterdam - Berlin - Prague - Salzburg - Lucerne - and a bit of Italy. And if I was over this way I'd also be tempted to squeeze in a bit of Slovenia to see Lake Bled and the beautiful caves... But the travels times seems much longer on this route...

So many beautiful places to see! It's quite overwhelming.

Any suggestions/comments from a seasoned traveler would be great :) thanks!

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