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Need Advice/Critiques for Solo Female Trip Through Europe! (5 Weeks)

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Hi everyone,

I am a 24 year old female who is looking for some helpful feedback and any constructive criticism for a solo trip to Europe from mid-May to mid-June later this year. I’m providing details on the length of the trip, the time of year, and what I think I would enjoy about each place. If any of you have any insight into comparable places to include in the itinerary, locations that may be worth replacing/swapping, excluding, and general comments, fire away! I’ve tried to include as much detail as possible for this inquiry.

Length:
I have about ~30-32 days available for this trip after saving up my vacation days for a few years.

Time of Year:
Mid-May to Mid-June

Travel Style:
I’ve been to Europe a few times before, having done a 6-week Eurotrip with my family when I was 10 and too young to appreciate what an amazing trip I was experiencing, and, in the past few years, 2 weeks in Spain, a weekend in Paris, and 10 days in Italy. I am an outgoing and friendly individual and I look forward to meeting fellow travelers in the various hostels I will stay at. I enjoy a museum every now and then, but what makes me happiest while traveling is wandering around a town, taking pictures (photography is a huge hobby of mine), good and unique food/drinks I can’t find anywhere else, and making new friends while out on the town. I wouldn’t expect to go out at night terribly often since I expect I’ll be tired from traveling/walking around so much and I would only feel comfortable on a night out if I had some trustworthy fellow companions from my hostel to go out with, but I’d love to explore the nightlife options of a few cities on my list! While I realize the trip is a bit schizophrenic in nature, I think I'd like a big mix of natural beauty (jagged coastlines along the Mediterranean, alpine-covered mountains and green valleys with water features), charming and picturesque towns and cities, and a few cities bursting with culture and nightlife opportunities to make this trip a rich experience.

Tentative Itinerary:
(numbers represent # of nights spent in each location, discussion follows of why I am interested in each city...all travel unless noted will be via train)

[Flying into Amsterdam]

Amsterdam (3)
Amsterdam seems to have a friendly, laid back culture. I’d love to walk around the canals and streets, rent a bike, and check out a brewery or two. The architecture looks beautiful and the city seems so charming. I’m a cheese lover, so I’d love to experience the various street markets and sample some cheeses. There seems to be lots of great shops to explore in the 9 Streets area and many wonderful museums (I’d love to visit the Anne Frank House in particular).

Paris (2)
I’ve been to Paris when I was 18 for a quick weekend and didn’t love the city, but now that I’m older, I think I’d appreciate it more. When I was here last, my family and I went up the Eiffel tower, spent a day in the Louvre, and took a night cruise along the Seine. A few of my passions include fashion, wine, chocolate, and fine dining (at least when I can afford to treat myself every now and then!) I’d like indulge in a great culinary experience here for a couple of days. I do wonder, though, if a trip to Beaune to visit nearby vineyards/experience Burgundy food or Lyons might make for a more memorable experience, culinary-wise.

The Interlaken/Murren area of Switzerland (3)
I remember Switzerland as being staggeringly beautiful with a varied landscape and climate. I’ve heard good things about this area and hope to go on a few day hikes while in this area. I’d love to photograph some beautiful mountains and waterfalls here.

Cinque Terre (2)
I have yet to hear a bad thing about Cinque Terre. The pictures of the five rustic towns look beautiful, and I’d like to spend a couple days stretched out to take my time hiking between them, relaxing on a beach or two for couple of hours, and enjoying some Ligurian cuisine (pesto is among my favorite foods!)

Amalfi Coast (6)
I’ve been dreaming of going to the Amalfi Coast for over a year now…it seems like one of the most picturesque places in the world with the brightly colored buildings speckling the green and rocky cliffs. I’m planning on staying in a hostel in Positano and making a couple of days trips to Ravello and Capri, but would mostly plan to relax in the area. I’m most excited to visit some limoncello factories, vineyards (there is a gorgeous one on the cliffs of the sea that gives free tours in Ravello), and indulge in copious amounts fresh seafood, pasta, and Neapolitan cuisine with a seaside view at sunset.

Rome (1)
I loved Rome the last time I visited and would mostly grab dinner in the city before leaving for the airport the following morning.

[Flying from Rome to Santorini]

Santorini (3)
I found a cheap flight from Rome > Santorini > Munich and thought this would be a perfect way to finally sample Greek culture and the beauty of the islands! Ideally, I would spend most of my time relaxing on one of the beaches (I’ve never seen water such a royal blue color), photographing the unique architectures and colors of Oia, eating my weight in Greek food, and touring some of the vineyards on the island.

[Flying from Santorini to Munich]

Munich (2)
I’m a big fan of beer, so Munich seemed like a great place to explore the culture of biergartens against the backdrop of a beautiful and historic city. While pictures of the Marienplatz and shade-covered biergartens initially roped me in (I feel obligated to make a stop in Germany), I’m unsure whether I should keep Munich on my itinerary. I’m tempted to swap out Munich for a more medieval town in Germany or perhaps beautiful Salzburg, Austria.

Prague (3)
I’ve heard Prague is a backpacker’s dream: plenty of history, affordable, great architecture, and fantastic nightlife. I definitely would like to keep Prague on my list, and potentially visit a nearby castle, but I’m not sure if I should allocate my third day elsewhere.

Krakow (2)
My family is Polish so a trip to Poland was a must. Krakow appears to be a very beautiful and historic city with some great nightlife options as well (perhaps not as varied as Prague), but I’d like to enjoy some Polish food, drinks, and learn more about my culture through visiting some local museums and attractions.

Warsaw (1)

[Flying out of Warsaw]

Potential swaps/exclusions:
Paris (Perhaps swap to spend time in Brussels/Bruges, a smaller city in the country in France somewhat on the way to Switzerland, or more days in Switzerland)
Munich (More days spent at another location or more days in Switzerland or Krakow)
Cinque Terre (seems like it would provide a similar experience as the Amalfi Coast)

Thank you for reading through my post and I look forward to hearing about any of your personal travel experiences and recommendations!

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    You are going to have such a wonderful trip! Be forewarned that if you read on, I will assume that you are making a commitment to share your perspectives in a trip report once you return. Well OK, no promise is actually required, but I'm sure I'm not alone in looking forward to hearing your post-trip thoughts!

    And kudos for thinking through what you want to do in various places and how they might fit together. And for giving us some information about yourself and your interests, so we can respond in a way that has a chance of being helpful.

    I've been to all the places you mention except Interlaken/Murren (which I expect to visit later this year) and Santorina, and I've visited all of them as a solo female. My interests are a bit different (e.g., I love museums!), so take that into consideration when you read my comments.

    > Amsterdam (3) ... numbers represent # of nights spent in each location

    So does that mean 2 or 3 or 4 days in Amsterdam? Given your stated interests, I think you'd want at least 2, maybe 3 days in the city. And even if you aren't all that interested in art museums, do give some thought to visiting the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museums - they hold such amazing collections! (And definitely visit the Anne Frank Haus.)

    > Paris (2)

    OMG, I love Paris! That said, if it hasn't caught your heart yet, waiting until it does makes some sense to me. There are many places outside of Paris where you can indulge your interest in fine dining (and probably much more affordably than while in Paris).

    > Cinque Terre (2)

    I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Cinque Terre, but I'm not sure that all the trails have re-opened, and that might influence your planning. Search this board; I'm pretty sure I saw someone post an update rather recently - perhaps on a thread in which I recommended La Torretta in Manarola? (Probably too rich for your budget, but it is a wonderful place to stay!)

    Amalfi Coast (6)

    Gorgeous area well suited to a relaxing break! I must admit that I don't seek relaxation when I travel, so I found about 4 days on the Amalfi Coast per se better suited to my interests. (And I added a few nights in vibrant, gritty, dynamic Naples as a contrast to the Amalfi Coast.) BTW, if you can, do consider spending a night in Capri - it is so much more charming after day-trippers have left!

    ... Munich (2) ... I’m tempted to swap out Munich for a more medieval town in Germany or perhaps beautiful Salzburg, Austria.

    Before I visited it many years ago, my image of Munich was of the beer halls at Octoberfest. I was very pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful city with some great museums and grand buildings and interesting places to roam. That said, Salzburg is also absolutely delightful and well deserving of a 2-night stay. If you go, give some thought to visiting the salt mines in Salzach - seriously!

    Prague (3) ... I definitely would like to keep Prague on my list, ... but I’m not sure if I should allocate my third day elsewhere.

    I, too, thought Prague delightful! Maybe you can wait to decide whether to add in a day trip or even a separate overnight?

    Krakow (2) ... Krakow appears to be a very beautiful and historic city ...

    it is! Do try to see Leonardo da Vinci's "Lady with an Ermine" while you are there -- she's stunning, and at least when I was there, you could visit her in a small room with at most a few other people.

    Warsaw (1)

    If you have any time in Warsaw, check out Old Town, which I believe was meticulously rebuilt at the citizens' own cost and on their own time.


    If I've followed along properly, you've actually included transit time in your plans - again, kudos! One tiny bit of caution: In my experience, it can be a bit disorienting to arrive in a new city, particularly if the language is different. I've learned to allocate at least a few extra hours to settling into a city in a different country than the one in which I was last.


    > Perhaps swap [Paris] to spend time in Brussels/Bruges

    I haven't been to Brussels yet, but I absolutely adored Bruges, and I think 2 days there is just about right for most people. I found the contrast to Amsterdam (both are built around canals) fascinating and was glad I saw them on the same trip. I've heard some say that it just made it hard to tell them apart (which I can't imagine! But to each his/her own).

    > Munich (More days spent at another location or more days in Switzerland or Krakow)

    As I mentioned above, I was very pleasantly surprised by Munich - but I like museums! IMHO, your idea of visiting Salzburg instead is quite reasonable. It just depends on what you want.

    > Cinque Terre (seems like it would provide a similar experience as the Amalfi Coast)

    As a LOT of threads on this board attest, yes and no! They are very different in style and architecture and history (and costs!), even if they share certain features like stunning scenery and good hiking trails. I'm glad I've seen both; I'm glad I visited them on different trips. But maybe that's just me.


    I hope my comments prove helpful.

    And one last thing: If you enjoy photography, either make sure you can upload your pictures frequently to a massive storage space or bring lots and lots and lots of extra memory! :-) :-)

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    Auschwitz is a must for anyone visiting krakow ... tours run daily as far as i can remember leave at about 9 back by about 2!!
    Krakow nightlife isn't as good as Prague's but it is still good :)

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    Wow, well my personal opinion is you are going to be spending alot of time in transit and not much time enjoying places.

    When you stay 2 nights in a place that basically works out to only one full day, I can't imagine with all your interests and passions that one full day in Paris is enough.. same with Rome, and Munich( or which ever other German city you choose )

    I would rework itinerary to at least allow three nights per place, which is still only two full days , but may give you a bit of time to wander the amazing side streets in neighborhoods that will amaze you with their photo opportunities..

    You basically have almost a "if its tuesday this must be belgium " bus tour plan,, hop hop hop,, you are young, you will most likely get back to Europe, why not enjoy your time in each place and not be stressed about hitting the main two tourist sites in each( like your last trip to Paris)..

    Now, some people like hopping, so this is only my opinion.. but I would really think about it,, you don't want a tour of bus/train stations and airports, you want a tour of Europe , right?

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    I've been living in Prague for the past 18 years and I am amazed that I keep discovering new things here but saying that I think you could realistically come for a long weekend and soak up a sufficient amount of city experience.
    I don't know where you are planning on staying on your trips but of course hostels are a great way to meet people and for Prague I can recommend either the Clown and Bard Hostel in Zizkov, or the DownTown Hostel on Narodni Street in Prague 1.
    Have an awesome trip!

    Neville :-)
    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Get trained up to teach English with ITTP TEFL Prague / Online!

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    Well you have listed 28 nights and say you can have 32. Do you have your plane tickets yet? You say flying out of Warsaw so it's unclear is that is just a possibility or if you have bought the tickets.

    But basically I think you have a few too many 1 or 2 night stays. I would either lengthen or skip them. In other words, while I love Paris, if you don't I would skip it and add the days to other locations. Or I'd take out something else so you can have at leave 4 days in Paris. I think going there for just two days you are not going to suddenly love it if you haven't yet.

    How are you planning on getting from Prague to Krakow? There's another thread running recently on how hard (long slow train) it is to combine Krakow with other places. I'd love to visit Krakow but haven't yet since it never seems to 'fit' with any place else.

    With that long a trip (I am currently planning a 32 day trip in June/July) I think you'll be happier with a few more four or five night stays. Not that you can't have a good trip with a few one, two or three night stays, just not almost a whole trip of them.

    Photography is also a passion of mine, especially travel photography (www.pbase.com/annforcier) and I've found that staying longer gets you a better shot at the right light,the right weather, etc. to get good results. For example, you only have 3 nights in Switzerland. It could easily be cloudy for three days in a row. Of course it could be cloudy for five as well but your chances are better. I'm also including Switzerland on my trip this year (was there for a week a few years ago) and I'm planning on 6-7 days and having options of cities as well as mountains so that if I get some cloudy days I can still enjoy being in a town, and go up to the mountains on the clear days.

    Santorini and the Amalfi Coast are two of my absolute favorite places to be and to photograph and the amount of time you have for them is fine. I would just consider cutting a few of the other locations so you can more time in others. You can also do day trips. For example if you give your self five days in Amsterdam instead of 3 you can do day trips to Delft, Leiden, Haarlem, etc. Or you could do 4 days Amsterdam, and stop for just one in Brugge (or Antwerpt) on the way to Switzerland, eliminating Paris.

    But with some tweaking I think you have a great trip.

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    lydiac and kerouackid - Thank you for your recommendations! I would like to try to visit one of the concentration camps, though I imagine it would be an emotionally difficult visit. Something definitely important, though, given its place in recent history and its impact on my Polish relatives.

    kja- Thank you so much for your incredibly personalized and thoughtful recommendations! I'm blown away and so incredibly appreciative of the time you took to respond to some of my questions and solicitation for feedback. It's great to hear that a fellow solo female traveler has had such great experiences in all of these areas! I was planning on keeping a digital travel diary of photos, notes, and reviews of each place I visited to post online after my trip, so I'll definitely offer a post-trip analysis/link to the site!

    justineparis - You make some valid points and while I know I'm young and have a good amount of energy, so much traveling is fatiguing and like you said, a great trip shouldn't be 50% spent in transit. I'll see if I can adjust Paris or Munich potentially to allow for more time in another area.

    ITTP_TEFL - Thank you for the hostel recommendations and assurance that a few days in Prague is sufficient time to get a feel for the city. Certainly, if I fall in love with a city or area, I would love to go back to spend more time there at a later point. I will check out the hostels you listed!

    isabel - Like justineparis, I think your suggestion to potentially cut out one location (though it pains me to do so!) is a good idea and one I will definitely consider. It's great to hear from someone who has traveled to so many of the places I'm interested in visiting and has taken such lovely pictures of. Thank you for your input!

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