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14-18 day highlights of Europe which tour company is best

14-18 day highlights of Europe which tour company is best

Dec 14th, 2015, 06:28 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,467
Insight may be a good company, but that itinerary is truly horrible. You won't experience enough of any country to know if you want to go back.
Sassafrass is offline  
Dec 14th, 2015, 07:05 AM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
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You hoping on taking multiple trips - if you want to do a tour, find one that does not cover so much ground. A tour can be good for a first visit to Europe to start to feel comfortable. Italy might be a good one to start with - one advantage of tours, not only do they take care of hotels and transportation, they arrange entry with guides, which in these days of many tourists, can be a real advantage. If you decide to do it yourself, add pre-booking entries to your planning. Rick Steves guidebooks are excellent for this kind of advice.

All that being said, one of my early tours was with EF (horrors!) and a group of high school student, we went to ome, Florence, Germany, Paris, and Barcelona in about 18 days - I had a great time and saw many of the "must sees". Time on the bus for napping! But I will say, I'm, a bit of a foodie and the tour food was abysmal so if you decide to do a tour, I'd suggest adding some money for meals out!

Hope you have some wonderful EU trips, however you decide to go!
suec1 is online now  
Dec 14th, 2015, 08:15 AM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 65,299
>>My thinking is, with a guided tour we would get much more time seeing what we want, rather than fumbling around with train and bus schedules etc…<<

Just the opposite. You would spend more time on the bus not seeing much of anything. and definitely ignore the suggestion to get a travel agent - most are useless for planning trips -- they book things, not plan things.

Do not worry about language issues. Most places in western Europe the majority of people speak English (and almost everyone in the hospitality industry does)

Start out easy - maybe your first trip to London and Paris. Lot much language difficulties - easy to fly into London, take the train from London to Paris and fly home from there. Could not be easier and then you'd have experience and you subsequent trips would just get easier and easier and you can branch out to other countries.

Your budget is ENORMOUS -- you could travel to Europe 10 or 15 times for that amount. So instead of 5 nasty coach tours you could travel to Europe twice a year for the next 6 or 7 years . . . (and maybe if you want to go somewhere more 'exotic' you could fit in a specialist, small group tour)
janisj is offline  
Dec 14th, 2015, 08:22 AM
  #24  
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
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All the arguments against joining some tour are well presented above. I can't agree more: the horror of somebody else making the decisions of what to see and when and for how long, and possibly also deciding where to have your lunch and dinner. No way!
Why not start the easy way with spending some two weeks in the UK? No language problem and you'll have probably a good idea of what you want to do. Or to Italy, where - as has been pointed out - they've got some centuries of experience with English-speaking tourists? Nothing adventurous, but the usual things.
When you see how easy and how rewarding it is to do it on your own, and have learned from the beginner's mistakes which everybody here has also made, you can venture further on. There is so much to discover and enjoy over here, and so much is overlooked by the tour companies who promise »to show it all«.
tonfromleiden is offline  
Dec 14th, 2015, 10:57 AM
  #25  
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I AM SO EXCITED by everything i've read here!!!
Thanks to everyone who has offered advice!!
I love the idea of doing London and Paris to start with. Although we won't be able to go until 2017. We have an alaska trip planned this June with princess. 1st week is a land tour, then we cruise the 2nd week. After what i've learned here i don't think i'll ever spend that kind of money on a 2 week vacation again.
So..... I'm thinking i'll start by getting Rick Steves guide books for London and Paris. What is the best time of year to go to avoid crowds? if that is even possible. What are your thoughts about a week in each of these cities?
How far ahead of time should i start making reservations, and pre-booking entries? I'm thinking of the Louvre. Again thanks to everybody!!
martoon is offline  
Dec 14th, 2015, 11:22 AM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Great! Welcome to DIY travel, lol. I still recommend reading "Europe Through the Back Door" as it is a general primer on European travel. You have loads of time, no need - or even possibility - of booking this early.

BTW, once you've got comfortable with European travel, Asia is fascinating and cheaper.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 14th, 2015, 11:32 AM
  #27  
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will do thursdaysd!! Gonna look up "Europe through the back door", thanks
martoon is offline  
Dec 14th, 2015, 11:43 AM
  #28  
 
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OK -- go ahead an get a Rick Steves for Paris if you want. He is absolutely for first timers to many places on the continent. But don't bother getting one for London. He doesn't especially like the UK in general and some of his advice for London/England is just flat wrong.

Get a Michelin Green guide or a DK Eyewitness . . . or a Fodors.

As for when to avoid crowds - not really possible in London or Paris. The only thing is I'd avoid August completely (as I would in most of Europe). It is the most crowded, hottest, most humid month and can be awful -- or not

A week in both cities would be WONDERFUL. You could take an easy day trip by train from each city if you wanted to see another part of the country. Say Oxford or Windsor from London and Giverney or Chartres from Paris.

>>How far ahead of time should i start making reservations, and pre-booking entries? I'm thinking of the Louvre<<

For airfares -- maybe 5 or 6 months out. For hotels maybe a little less. For the Louvre -- you don't need to book at all. You simply buy a Museum Pass when you get to Paris you can walk right in.

For London almost all the galleries and museums are free and the big sites that charge (the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey etc etc) you don't want to pre-book because we can tell you a way to get in 2for1 (way too early to explain all that now -- you have a year+ to plan -- we don't want to confuse you too much too far ahead
janisj is offline  
Dec 14th, 2015, 12:21 PM
  #29  
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
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»I love the idea of doing London and Paris to start with«
Excellent! You'll love the DIY travelling.
London and Paris on one trip would be a little bit much for my taste.
I'd say have some 2 or 2,5 weeks in the UK. A few days in London, with outings to Kew Gardens or Hampton Court. Move on to Oxford. Maybe further on to York. And then finish it off with another few days in London. Or continue for Edinburgh and see how you can fly back home from there.
There are so many internet tools to help you on the way. Booking.com is very trustworthy for hotels. It pays to look around and change the dates to see whether they have some lower fares for other days in the week (I had it once in London: a ridiculously expensive hotel around the corner from the British Museum, but affordable in the weekends). For the UK nationalrail.co.uk is excellent for planning your train journeys.
Late spring or early autumn are the best times of the year. Temperatures are good and the large crowds are still away.
tonfromleiden is offline  
Dec 14th, 2015, 01:05 PM
  #30  
 
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I think a week in each would be preferable - adding Paris is getting just a wee bit further into the "otherness" of Europe - a chance to see that being in a non-english speaking (at least as the official language) is doable. Plus French food! Both cities can have easy daytrips out to more rural locals.

Has open jawed ticket been mentioned for flight - it is usually just as cheap to fly into one destination and out another as to do round trip, and you don't have to back track. You should buy the chunnel tickets in advance (but not yet) for lowest fares.
suec1 is online now  
Dec 14th, 2015, 01:19 PM
  #31  
 
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tonfromleiden: Even though England/Scotland is my very favorite destination - I personally think a simple London/Paris two fer would be better for a first visit. It would be flat easy and no extra planning/organizing required.
janisj is offline  
Dec 14th, 2015, 02:36 PM
  #32  
 
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I agree that Paris would be a wonderful first European destination, but so would Rome, Florence and Venice. It is very easy to navigate and take trains between cities. I think it is only 1/2 from Rome to Florence and about 2-2/12 hrs between Florence and Venice. Or just do 2 of the cities. You will much more and do it at your pace, spending as much time as you like at each site. Additionally, you can stop and have a snack or gelato (yum) any time you like. We did only 2 escorted tours that we felt were necessary because of the distance between place we wanted to see. The tours were in Israel and Cambodia/Vietnam. We are seniors and appreciate the ease of taking a tour, but it is definitely a compromise. Save the tours for destinations that do not have good mass transportation. You have plenty of time in the future for tours. Enjoy wandering the streets of a new city and really experiencing it. It is far better than boarding a bus at 8:30am and not returning until 4:30-5:00. You also will not have to contend with packing your suitcase every 2 days or so.
Happy travels.
floridagal2 is offline  
Dec 14th, 2015, 02:43 PM
  #33  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Hey, slow down guys! The OP has only just decided to DIY, and isn't traveling until 2017!

They need to go off and read some books - preferably including the glossy picture ones - and figure out what interests them. Let's not push our favorite places until they've had a chance to figure out their own preferences.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 14th, 2015, 03:06 PM
  #34  
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have ordered "Europe through the back door" and been checking out seat61.com , lots of "armchair" traveling to do until we do go, having fun already!
martoon is offline  
Dec 14th, 2015, 04:16 PM
  #35  
 
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IMHO May is a great time for London and Paris - spring well on the way so everything is pretty but not the worst of the crowds yet - since american kids are all still in school and many europeans don;t travel until August. Also their is limited possibility of needing AC - which is by no means universal in even moderate lodgings.

A great intro, esp staring in England which has almost the same language (although driving is on the wrong side and it will take a couple of days to automatically look the right way crossing the street) and also has a very easy train trip to Paris. Be sure to look at open jaws flights into London and out of Paris
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 14th, 2015, 10:26 PM
  #36  
 
Join Date: May 2003
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May is a great time to travel, but do be aware of some holidays, when lots of Europeans take citytrips and short holidays. For 2017:
May 1st
May 25/26 - long weekend from Thursday - Sunday for many
June 5
These are all long weekends.

May 1 and May 29 are holidays in the UK.

Enjoy planning your trip!
Tulips is offline  
Dec 14th, 2015, 10:33 PM
  #37  
 
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Paris and London to start with is great.
Expand your time and do some daytrips to get a feel of seomthing else.
Versailles or Chartres or Reims or Bruxelles.
Bruxelles especially.

Start easy then you'll do more.

As some said, you have a GREAT budget. My average budget for hotels in Paris is 111 € (and I have slept in 125+ hotels - some good ones).

Some countries are cheaper like Germany for accomodation adn food at least, and Spain (I've just paid 69 € in a 3 stars hotel including breakfast and a can of coke and a toblerone - hope my wife isn't reading).

London is the most expensive city in Europe, imo, on accomodation.
pariswat is offline  
Dec 15th, 2015, 12:52 AM
  #38  
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Is Google ITA matrix , a good site to check out open jaws flights?
martoon is offline  
Dec 15th, 2015, 01:07 AM
  #39  
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I still don't get it. Went to expedia just to try an open jaw flight. When you click roundtrip you can't put in a different return city. Feel like a dope, what am i missing?
martoon is offline  
Dec 15th, 2015, 01:16 AM
  #40  
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went back to expedia, is it as simple as using multiple destinations?
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