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1 month Europe multi-country itinerary help

1 month Europe multi-country itinerary help

Jan 15th, 2014, 02:40 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 7
1 month Europe multi-country itinerary help

My husband and I have a rare opportunity to travel for about 30 days from mid April to mid May this year. We're 28 and 30. We have a very long travel bucket list, and we want to see several places on our list in this trip because it may be the last one before we have kids. Below is a rough itinerary of what I have in mind. I'm looking for people who have done something similar or been to some of these places and may have suggestions or advice on how many days in each spot. Any other relevant advice is also welcome. If you've been to some of these places, which were your favorites? Thanks.

Amsterdam- 4
Bruges- 3
Cologne- 2
Rothenburg- 2
Munich- 2
Salzburg- 3
Innsbruck- 2
Florence- 3
Tuscany- 3
Cinque Terre- 2
Rome- 4

I'm thinking we'll travel mostly by rail, but rent a car and drive from Cologne to Munich, and rent a car in Tuscany. Advice, please! Thanks!
SIG925 is offline  
Jan 15th, 2014, 02:48 PM
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Your plan is very VERY difficult -- you have accounted for no travel time at all. Some of those transfers will eat up an entire day and even the shortest ones will take half a day.

Plus you will be jet lagged at the beginning and the last day is packing and checking out. So deducting 6+ days travel time and a minimum 1 day to recover from jet lag -- you have approx 23 days or a little less to explore 11 destinations. Not a good idea.
janisj is online now  
Jan 15th, 2014, 02:54 PM
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I would probably start in Rome (better/warmer weather in April), but you might have to contend with some Easter crowds (depends when you would arrive). Work your way north.
kybourbon is offline  
Jan 15th, 2014, 04:29 PM
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Amsterdam- 4 (good - take it easy first couple of days for jetlag)
Bruges- 3 (only need 1 or two days)
Cologne- 2 (IMHO only need 1 day, if that)
Rothenburg- 2 (never been there)
Munich- 2 (OK)
Salzburg- 3 (only need 1-2 days)
Innsbruck- 2 (never been there)
Florence- 3 (could do with 4 but that's OK. btw you can take night train from Innsbruck to Milan or Venice)
Tuscany- 3 (OK, if this is a bucket list thing for you. I would scratch it but that's just me.)
Cinque Terre- 2 (same comment as Tuscany)
Rome- 4 (yes, or even 5 days)

If this is your first trip to Europe, I would scratch a whole batch of these (Cologne, CT, etc) and add in Paris, Venice and London.
danlev is offline  
Jan 15th, 2014, 04:31 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I also would work south to north. You're going to run out of time at the end of your trip unless you severely cut back the number of days in each location.

Here's an example of what your itinerary looks like when you include travel time.

Day 1 - 1/2 day - Amsterdam
Day 2-4 - Amsterdam
Day 5 - 1/2 day Amsterdam; 1/2 day travel to Bruges
Day 6-8 - Bruges
Day 9 - 1/2 day - travel to Cologne
Day 10 & 1/2 day 11 - Cologne
Day 11 - 3/4 day - travel to Rothenberg
Day 12 - 13 - Rothenberg
Day 14 - 3/4 day - travel to Munich
Day 15 - 16 - Munich
Day 17 - 1/2 day - travel to Salzburg
Day 18 - Day 20 - Salzburg & travel to Innsbruck
Day 21 - 22 Innsbruck
Day 23 - travel to Florence
Day 24 - 26 - Florence
Day 27 - 30 - elsewhere in Tuscany
adrienne is offline  
Jan 15th, 2014, 04:43 PM
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Have you been to Europe before? How have you chosen these places?
Gretchen is offline  
Jan 15th, 2014, 04:47 PM
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How fun for you and your husband! Long trips are great - you get to see a lot and also settle in a bit. Word of warning: about halfway through there tends to be a "good lord I am sick of all my cloths, and repacking, and I need a vacation from my vacation."

I agree with Janisj about travel time. You would be surprised by how much time that can take (get off the train and start walking the wrong direction, can't find a taxi to get to the bus station, GPS decides not to work).

If the 2-night places are lower on your bucket list, then cut them and redistribute among the other (higher-priority) cities.

Here is my suggestion:
Amsterdam 5
Cologne 4
Munich 4
Salzburg 4
Florence 4
Tuscany 4
Rome 5

*I am terribly biased towards Italy and haven't been to Germany, so you know...grain of salt.
bubblywine is offline  
Jan 15th, 2014, 06:03 PM
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We've been to Europe twice in the last 2 years and seen parts of England, France, and Spain including London, Paris, and Barcelona. Both trips were slightly slower paced than this one, and we feel like we can do a little more this time although this will be the longest so I know that makes a difference. We pack light, have some experience with transportation, etc, so we aren't complete newbies.

I thought about going south to north too, but I hesitate because if the timing is right when we're in Amsterdam, I would love to see the tulips in bloom as a day trip. From what I've read mid to late April is the best time for that. But we're still trying to decide on which direction for sure.

I realize travel takes up a lot of time and I may cut out 1 or 2 places. But some of the connections aren't bad at all like from Amsterdam to Bruges, for example. Then if we drive in Germany, that's part of the adventure so I don't consider those hours wasted.

I may cut out Innsbruck. Also we have a max of 32 nights to spend not including travel. So I may redistribute days a little bit. I thought 3 for Bruges because I wanted to take a day trip to nearby Ghent (less than 30 minutes away).

I chose these places based largely on scenery and culture that I've read about and seen photos of. We like to walk around and explore, take photos, eat, etc. Picturesque canals, Belgian and German beer, seeing part of Bavaria and the Alps, the Cathedral in Cologne, and everything about Italy- these are some of the things I'm drawn to in these places.

Also want to quickly note that on our past trips we've done combinations of big cities with countrysides or smaller towns and really liked seeing both, so I tried to make this a mix of that too.

Sorry this is long. Thanks for the responses, and more input is welcome!
SIG925 is offline  
Jan 15th, 2014, 06:26 PM
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There's no reason why you can't do a trip with many places in a short time but you will need to cut back someplace to fit it all in. It's not a matter of having good connections or enjoying the car time. That has nothing to do with not being able to fit a 36 day itinerary into 31 days (32 nights).

One full day in Bruges is enough plus one full day in Ghent. Can you cut back your 6 days in Tuscany to 4 days and remove Cinque Terre and Innsbruck. That would be the 4 days you need to fit everything in plus 1 day as a buffer.
adrienne is offline  
Jan 16th, 2014, 04:07 AM
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Surpirse! Another experienced European traveler OP treated like they don't know the distances involved in Europe.

>>>your plan is "very VERY difficult"

I don't think it is.

>>>>It's not a matter of having good connections or enjoying the car time.

Sure it is if the OP is satisfied with the connections she has researched and enjoys driving in Europe.

>>>>That has nothing to do with not being able to fit a 36 day itinerary into 31 days (32 nights).

Huh? It's a proposed 30 night itinerary fit into, well... exactly 30 nights. If someone else believes it should be done in 36 days, or even 46, neither of those are "correct".

I have stayed in Brugge on several occasions for multiple nights. It fits your interest in strolling and exploring in a picturesque place, rather then having particular "destinations" to visit. A day trip to Ghent is a good add on.

Cologne as a 2 day stop might be something to look at. The Dom is right outside the train station and the rest of the city is not really a favourite for most. It is a little gritty. You could take an early train from Brugge, visit the Dom for several hours and then pick up your can and move on, for example. It's 4.5 more hours to Rothenburg, though.

Innsbruck also leaves a lot of people saying "meh". There are not any great destination sights and it is not really quaint or picturesque except for a small central area.

Something else to consider would be to take the train to Milan, pick up a car and then drive to Cinque Terre and around Tuscany before going to Florence and returning the car. You could then take a train from Florence to Rome.
Aramis is offline  
Jan 16th, 2014, 04:40 AM
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I agree with the others that I'd cut it back, but just a little. On longish trips (the last few years I've done 4 and 5 week trips) I like to have at least a couple of 4 -6 night stays in among the 2 or 3 nighters. Especially is you can pick places where you can do day trips. That way you can still see a lot of places but you don't have to change hotels each day, and if you end up being tired you can eliminate some without having to change reservations.

For example - Salzburg and Innsbruck are each only about an hour and a half from Munich. You itinerary has 7 nights between the three. I'd pick one base, in or near Munich and do day trips to the others (plus you could explore even more places). I haven't been to Innsbruck but Salzburg can be seen in a day trip.

I've been to Cologne and it was one of my least favorite places in Europe. So I'd eliminate that and add those two days to the Cinque Terre. And I would consider staying in one of the larger towns (which are still small places) in the region such as Rapallo or Camogli. There are lots of other worthwhile places to see - Porovenere, Portofino, Santa Maurgherita, etc. I spent five nights in Rapallo two years ago and did day trips (by train and boat) to all those towns. Wonderful.

Florence is IN Tuscany. I'd combine those as well probably and either do day trips from Florence to smaller towns (maybe just do a one day car rental to see some hill towns, Sienna and several others can be seen by public transportation) or base in a smaller town (Siena is mid sized and makes a good base) and do day trip to Florence. Just be careful not to drive IN Florence itself, lots of places where you'll get steep fines if you drive in the center).

Then you would have something like this:
Ams 4 days
Brugge/Ghent (& Antwerpt) 3 days
Rothenburg- 2
Munich- 5 or 6 (Salzburg,Innsbruck)
Florence /Tuscany- 6
Cinque Terre- 4
Rome- 5 or 6

You mentioned looking at photos to get ideas where to go. Here's my gallery, it includes everywhere on your list except Innsbruck and Rothernburg. www.pbase.com/annforcier
isabel is offline  
Jan 16th, 2014, 06:08 AM
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<< If someone else believes it should be done in 36 days, or even 46, neither of those are "correct". >>

Aramis - It's not a matter of being correct or not. The OP has listed a 30-day itinerary. He leave no time to move on to the next location. If he makes no changes, when he gets to the end of his 30 days he will not have seen Cinque Terre and Rome. I don't care if he sees these places or not but he needs to be aware he will come up short.
adrienne is offline  
Jan 16th, 2014, 07:13 AM
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why 2 days in Cologne, a town many find a few hours sufficient to see and 2 days in Rothenburg itself would bore many as well. Add those days into places that others rightly say need more time.

3 days in Bruges - fine if you want to day trip to Gent or the coast or whatever but Bruges itself is small.

anyway for lots of help in planning the rail part of the trip I always spotlight these IMO fab sources - www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com. I'd consider taking the train Cologne to Munich, base there and do Rothenburg as a day trip - relocating hotels as said above takes a lot of time packing up and unpacking, etc.

If you've never been to Venice then I'd pencil that in - to me the most sublime beautiful and unique city in the world. I'd substitute it for the Cinque Terre any time.

Bruges is nice - really nice but it is kind of an outlier for your trip - take those 3 days and spread them out in Italy where the weather will also be better. Belgium in spring can be windy and cool and wet!
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 16th, 2014, 07:57 AM
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For my money, Isabel has got it right. Choose a central location and stay longer while doing a couple of day trips if you wish.

Which places you choose is up to you and comments about 'I'd do less time in X and more time in Y or leave out Z altogether' are meaningless. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks is worth more or less time.

Isabel's suggestion is not telling you how much time to spend in any of the places that interest you(ok, she has added some personal preferences but you can ignore them without ignoring the central idea), only a more efficient way to do so.

Moving hotels every 2 or 3 nights is such a pain in the butt. The longer your trip is the more sense it makes to avoid it as much as possible.
dulciusexasperis is offline  
Jan 16th, 2014, 09:21 AM
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base cities is the way to go - ditto to all that dulclusexaperis says. Packing up is hell and unpacking too.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 16th, 2014, 01:37 PM
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Actually I will defend your choice of a few days in Cologne, not because I think Cologne itself is worth much beyond a few hours or a day (museum goers may disagree), but if you view it as a base to see the area, you could visit Aachen (historically important as the home of Charlemagne and the coronation place of German kings for over 600 years), Maastricht (pretty little city in the Netherlands) and the Rhine gorge. All of those are worthwhile trips, very accessible by train.

lavandula is online now  
Jan 16th, 2014, 02:15 PM
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Rothenburg does not take more than one full day and the arrival evening. Two nights maximum in my opinion.

Drop Innsbruck.
Michael is online now  
Jan 16th, 2014, 02:37 PM
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Let me clarify something! I think I was unclear in the question... the number next to each place is the number of NIGHTS I thought we'd spend, not full days! So travel between is built in! I didn't ignore travel times between altogether! I thought this was a given but guess not- my bad. That's how my mind works So, 3 nights in Bruges is 2 full days, etc.

Some of these suggestions are really good and I appreciate them! I think I'll make these changes if it makes sense once I do more research:

**Bruges to Cologne- see Dom, pick up car and head south, not spending any nights in Cologne
**Munich or nearby as a base with day trip to Salzburg (forget Innsbruck)and day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle
**Either Florence or Tuscan countryside as base with day trips to the other

So it would be more like this, possibly:

Amsterdam- 4 NIGHTS
Bruges- 3 (day trip to Ghent)
Rothenburg- 2 (1 full day, remember)
Munich- 3 or 4 (day trips to Salzburg & Neuschwanstein)

note: I like the idea to train to Milan, rent car, and drive to CT and Tuscany, return car in Florence, train to Rome, so...

CT- 3
Tuscany/Florence- 4?
Rome- 5

That leaves extra nights so we could add those on or add ONE more location. Hmmm... Venice, Amalfi Coast, Como?? Or we could make another stop in Germany on the way to Munich.

So that would be maybe 8 hotels rather than 11. Better, right?
SIG925 is offline  
Jan 16th, 2014, 03:00 PM
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I say train to Venice, not Milan. Spend 2-3 nights in Venice. Train to Florence. 2 nights Florence. Bus to Siena and rent a car there for two days' worth of Tuscany touring (Val d'Orcia, Pienza, Montepulciano, etc). Train to Rome.

So, 3 nights Venice, 2 nights Florence, 2 nights Siena, 5 nights Rome.

Siena is a great base for your Tuscan exploring. Don't miss the Abbey at Monte Oliveto Maggiore: http://www.monteolivetomaggiore.it/ Simply spectacular!

Have a lovely trip!
sarge56 is offline  
Jan 16th, 2014, 04:47 PM
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If you drive to CT you'll want to leave the car at one end and train/walk/boat between the villages (more here: http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/liguria/cinqueterre.htm - roads are "narrow and winding and go along a steep hillside").

If you have an extra day, spend it in Tuscany or take a detour into Umbria. And be careful that your hotel in Florence has parking (steep fines for driving in the wrong zone).
bubblywine is offline  

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