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17 days - Italy, Switzerland and Spain in May/ June 2013

17 days - Italy, Switzerland and Spain in May/ June 2013

Dec 11th, 2012, 01:00 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2012
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17 days - Italy, Switzerland and Spain in May/ June 2013

Hi Guys,

I am Nik, a first timer on this forum. In fact on any kinda forum for that matter.

I am planning a trip/ vacation to europe with my wife (Esh) for 17 days in May/June 2013. I am 31 and she's 27. I've prepared an itinerary after doing some research . Just wanted to check if this itinerary is feasible and is it a good way (if not excellent) to explore these 3 countries - Italy, Switzerland and spain.

Our interests are - scenic places, culture, beach, adventure sports and night life.
I know this might sound a little weird considering we are visiting europe but we r not much interested in arts, museums and other such stuff, though we 'd of course be doing a lot of that especially in Italy. We are just those regular tourists who want to explore a little bit of beautiful Europe having a lot of fun.

Any suggestions, advices are most welcome. Please note that i've not shortlisted on must see/ do things for any of the cities. Though I am sure I'll b exploring this site and many other sites for zeroing down on that, but hoping that someone can advice me on this based on our itinerary and interests. Thanks in avance

Day 1 - Arrive in Rome - Explore the city
Day 2 - Rome - Explore must watch places
Day 3 - Rome - explore more of Rome and move to florence at night
Day 4 - Florence - Explore florence and nearby places such as leaning tower of Pisa or any other such places
Day 5 - Florence - Explore more of florence and overnight train to venice
Day 6 - Venice - explore venice or nearby places
Day 7 - Venice - explore some more venice and reach Milan by afternoon/ evening (mostly for nightlife in milan)
Day 8- Milan - Leave for interlaken by afternoon
Day 9 - Interlaken - explore interlaken and nearby places
Day 10 - Interlaken - explore more and leave for Geneva by night
Day 11 - Geneva - explore geneva and nearby places
Day 12 - Geneva - Leave for Spain
Day 13 - Somewhere in Spain
Day 14 - Somewhere in Spain
Day 15 - leave for Barcelona
Day 16 - Barcelona
Day 17 - Barcelona
Day 18 - Leave Barcelona to homeland

Please note that during any period of time, we do not want it to get exhausting or feel that we are in a lot of hurry, even if that means missing out on something due to time constraint or adding on a couple of days if it has to be done based on our interests.

looking at the itinerary, you can understand I've chosen the main cities or base cities but not selected nearby cities which i am sure might end up being more exciting. Those suggestions will be most welcome.

Is skiing possible in may/ june in switzerland?

Is there a possibility that I can cut off 2 days anywhere in this itinerary without effecting the whole trip making it a 15 days vacation? (As of now I am thinking cutting off Milan cos i think we'll 've a good night life in Spain but not sure if cutting out a major city is a good option)

Best way to explore spain in those 5 full days in Spain, beaches or otherwise? I've put Barcelona as the last city to visit cos the flight back home will be from there. Also if i add 2 more days to spain will i be able to include stuff which are must see in spain to explore its real essence making it over all a 19 day trip?

As you can make out I am at a very initial stage of planning and very confused. Till now I am not sure how much budget is going to b a constraint in this planning but as of now my budget is around $ 3k excluding tickets. Can I expect it to take care of all my hotels, food and transportation or am I just making castles in the air (since we tend to indulge in luxury and prefer eating in fancy places) ?? I understand hotels and food will be as per our indulgence but how expensive is transportation/ commuting? How expensive is renting a car or train tickets? What medium is best for commuting in different segments? As per this itinerary, where all can I save on hotel during commuting? I am planning to book everything by Mid Jan.

We'd love to do camping once or twice during the trip. As far as I know, we can do it on some beaches in Spain. Where all in the entire trip is it possible and how safe is it?? are there any genuine websites for renting equipment and information??

Are there any professionals indulging coaststeering in spain or Italy??

Which are the adventure sports available in all these places excluding scuba and sky diving??

All this is of course is just the ramble in my head.

Any suggestions will be deeply appreciated, even if they are about just one specific country. Awaiting responses and again thanking you guys in advance.
EshNik is offline  
Dec 11th, 2012, 01:40 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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17 days for all of this will be undoubedly exhausting for almost anyone. I won't get into the details. I'd encourage you to review some recent posts from people who've wanted to do similar trips.

Don't feel bad or overwhelmed - it's a common first time mistake in an initial itinerary to try to cram in way too much.

With 2.5 weeks I'd focus on at most 2 countries and 2-3 regions. I can't tell you where to cut as it all has to do with personal taste. Also, if you're on a tight budget the more you move around it will likely be more expensive. Is the $3K budget (not including airfare) for both you and your wife? Or is this $3K each?
CathyM is offline  
Dec 11th, 2012, 02:02 PM
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I am certainly not a travel expert. I am sure others will give you better advice than I can, but you seem to have too much travel going on. We are planning our second 15 day trip to Italy for the first of June 2013 and we are doing Rome, Venice and the lake district in the North. It seems to me (I am much older than you) that you have a lot of traveling going on and not as much time to relax and enjoy the areas. The best advice I ever got on this site was to go back and read other trip reports. You can click near the top and select the country you want to explore and then look for trip reports. Good Luck!
willowjane is online now  
Dec 11th, 2012, 02:19 PM
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Skip Spa
bobthenavigator is offline  
Dec 11th, 2012, 02:23 PM
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Sorry---hit something!

Skip Spain this time---you have more than enough for IT and CH, and the travel time is too much.

I would also skip Geneva in favor of Luzern, then the BO and fly home from Zurich.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Dec 11th, 2012, 03:07 PM
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EshNik, I will tell you that Bob the Navigator was one of the key reasons I had a successful first trip to Italy. He is an expert and has so many tips. I read all of his trip reports! He has beautiful pictures and detailed reports. Take his advice!
willowjane is online now  
Dec 11th, 2012, 03:21 PM
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First, a compliment to you for doing some research and figuring out what you like and don't like. Glad you don't mind advice about specific bits.

Trip is a bit rushed in places, especially Florence and Venice.

Trains in Italy are cheap and efficient. They are espcecially good for going city center to city center where you don't want/need a car. Use those unless you are touring in the countryside.

Florence is not far from Venice. Don't bother with an overnight train for such a short trip.

Venice has little night life, but it is lovely & romantic to walk around Venice in darkness.

Florence is all about Art and Architecture. If that is not of great interest to you currently, don't feel you have to see it. Save it for another time when you have more interest. Instead, rent a car and visit a bit of Tuscany for scenery, food and wine. Siena or some other hill towns might be interesting to you.

Great scenery - all three countries, but spectacular on the AC of Italy, Lakes, Switzerland and many parts of Spain.

Culture - all three countries and very different in different parts of each country.

Forget visiting Milan, Save the time for Spain.

Costs - Switzerland is very expensive. Spain is least expensive, though not cheap. If your budget is $3,000 for the two of you, I don't think you can get luxury for that any place for that length of a time. Consider dropping Switzerland and adding time to Spain.

For great beaches and night life, Spain is fantastic.

Throwing out a lot of ideas:


If you can afford the time, add Tuscany.

Fly from Milan to Malaga, Spain.

Time on Beaches, rent car and enjoy nightlife in small towns, consider Granada for scenery and culture.
Visit Seville for Sights and night life.
Barcelona (fly or train from Seville) for culture & night life.

or. . . rather than Southern Spain, hit Northern Spain - San Sebastion area for great food, scenery and beaches, then on to Barcelona.

If you are set on Switzerland, combine it with Italy (or Spain or even France - I know you didn't mention France) and don't try to do three countries. You could consider the AC (though it is expensive) for stunning scenery, but would have to cut something.
You could look at something like this: Rome to AC, night train or fly to Venice, continue.
Or spend the whole time in Italy.

Hope you have lots of fun planning.
Sassafrass is offline  
Dec 11th, 2012, 03:22 PM
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Nightlife in Barcelona is incredible and the beaches in Catalunya offer plenty of adverture tourism opportunities. I wouldn't recommend skipping Spain but I am highly biased.

I think the OP needs to determine what places in each country are most in line with his interests. Obviously all of this can't be done.
CathyM is offline  
Dec 11th, 2012, 05:08 PM
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Agree w Bob/navigator - I'd personally choose just It/SW and then a future return trip could be So. France/Spain.

I also agree that if you plan on 3 nights in Venice, that leaves you with 2 "full" days to explore Venice, and you'll be glad you stayed that one extra day.
docdan is offline  
Dec 11th, 2012, 05:11 PM
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for some suggestions from our visit to Venice.
docdan is offline  
Dec 11th, 2012, 05:33 PM
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You have laid out a lovely vacation that will take about 6 weeks if you actually want to see anything. Otherwise you have a lovely tour of the train stations of europe.

I fear some of the things you want simply aren't possible (Venice to Florence is only about 2 hours by train and you simply can;t do it as an overnight trip).

There are ski schools in the Alps in summer - but only on the mountain tops - so a very long and expensive trip from the valley - plus do you have enough experience at high altitudes - 10 to 12,000 feet to know you can take part in activity without physical problems? And this, like everything else in Switzerland - if VERY expensive.

Have no idea what coasatsteering is.

I strongly suggest you have a look at:

bahn.de to determine how long the trips you are contemplating are

Have a look at the michelin green guides to see the major sights in each place - and how long it will take to do so. Even if you don't want to see any of the museums - a few major sights in each place will take more time than you have allowed.
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 12th, 2012, 11:40 AM
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Thanks everyone. Its heart warming to see so many people coming forward to help.
looking at all the feedbacks, one thing is evident - take up only 2 countries at a time. I think we made the mistake of treating these countries as three big cities.

Based on your feedbacks and some research, we've come up with three routes:

1) Wife's choice

3N Rome - 4N Florence (including either tuscany (for beach) or Sienna or both - base city florence) - 4N Venice (Including lake district) - 4N SW (Interlaken - Luzern - Fly back from Zurich)

draw backs - SW is very expensive and no beaches/night life/ adventure sports in the entire route

2) My Choice

3N Rome - 4N Venice (including lake district and on the way to venice - sienna or pisa) - 2N Sevilla - 2N Granada - 4N Barcelona (fly back )

drawback - may again be a little hectic.. not sure. pls comment

3) 1 choice we both think might be logical - Taking 1 big country at a time to explore it fully

(fly into Venice )4N Venice (including lake district) - 4N Florence (including tuscany, sienna)- 3N Rome - 4N Any 1 beach in naples or sicily or Lido or any other, can explore more beaches from one base taking day trips (fly back from Rome)

Though we are interested in seeing Italy thoroughly ,the reason we are not that keen on the third route is since we are coming all the way to europe for the first time, we 've the option of taking the best of atleast two countries. Who knows when the next trip is gonna be.

@cathy - Thanks for being the first eyeopener . $3k was for both which we've now revised to $ 4k lookin at hotel prices and feedbacks. Taken your advice n redone the routes. even I am a little more keen for spain then SW. Let us know ur take on the routes

@jane - tryin to make it relaxin. included lake district and checked bob's advises on his page. Thanks. Do add more of your valuable suggestions

@bob - Thanks. your route is definitely more relaxed and to the point. Made the changes as per your suggestion. Do let us know which route you recommend and if we shud change anything further in that

@docdan - Thanks. read the page u recommended. at least to us looked like a chaos though it did give us a very good idea on wat to expect and will surely help us when we start planning every city in detail. Included extra nights in Venice. still confused between sw/spain. Though logically SW looks like a better choice but looking at our interests it might end up being a very quiet if not dull kinda vacation.

@sassafrass: Thanks a lot for the detailed picture. Appreciate it and your routes literally spoke out our mind. my route is actually a lift off from your 1st option. since we now revised our budget to 4k and reduced the trip to 15 days, is that good enough for a semi luxury trip. basically as of now I am calculating my budget as follows - $1500 for hotels, $500 for all commute, 1500 food and wine, $500 Misc. Also do choose best route according to you and suggest changes if any. Thanks again

@nytraveler: lol .. no we do not want to jst take a lovely tour of train stations. redone the course. do check n give ur feedback. dropped the idea of skiing this time around. may be during early or late winters some year. went through the website. will work wonders during planning out detailed trip to each city. right now just looking to finalise the itinary so that we can finish all the major bookings by mid/end jan.
EshNik is offline  
Dec 12th, 2012, 04:55 PM
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I agree with your wife.
And, start now and plan 3 trips in advance since you will return---you are so young. We have gone back 27 times now---most of them after age 55.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Dec 12th, 2012, 05:37 PM
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So glad you took the advice without taking it personal. My first 3 trips to Europe were way too much....I was trying to cram in so much and it ended up a blur. It took me about 5 trips before I realized that I would be returning and it was more important to enjoy what I'm seeing, sit down and people watch and actually meet people along the way! Instead I was literally checking sites off a list as I visited each city.

I like your 3rd option of just focusing on one country at a time but I can understand you feel like you want/need to see more.

About your other choices:
I haven't returned to Italy in 10 years (it was my favorite before I "found" Spain) but 3 nights seems short for Rome especially if it's your first city after a transatlantic flight. Your idea of Sevilla (2), Granada (2) and Barcelona (4) is very rushed. First of all I'd recommend 4 nights minimum for Sevilla with a daytrip to Cordoba. You could easily spend a week in Sevilla with all the nearby daytrips. 2 nights would really only be one day when you consider the transportation time from Italy. This is way too short. 2 nights for Granada is fine. 4 nights for Barcelona is a little tight. You'd have enough time to see the main sights in Barcelona but wouldn't have time to explore the area with daytrips (another great place for daytrips). If you really want to do the Spain part and only have 8 days then I'd probably stick with one geography and return to finish in another trip. Even with an entire 2 week trip dedicated to Spain (or Italy) you can't see it all!
CathyM is offline  
Dec 12th, 2012, 06:39 PM
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I like your #3 option, slowing down and concentrating on one country at a time. You will not be sorry about it.
Italy is a great first trip (it was our first trip, too – 15 days in Venice, Florence and Cinque Terre) and I am sure you will go back.

Read trip reports, google images of places you think might be of interest, and decide based on that.

4N Venice (including lake district) – I think you need at least 2 days in Venice, that’s 3N, especially if coming from US (where are you coming from?). That leaves you 1 day for a day trip to the lakes…not sure if that’s possible, we haven’t done the lakes yet.
4N Florence (including tuscany, sienna) – If that means 3N/2 days in Florence, 1 day trip to Sienna, then ok. Otherwise, keep in mind, Tuscany is a big region that deserves more time.
3N Rome – 2 days in Rome is probably not enough…
Don’t know and cannot recommend beaches, but for your amount of time 15-17 days, I think 3 bases would be enough. Leave Sicily for another trip.
You will have a great trip!
xyz99 is offline  
Dec 13th, 2012, 12:27 AM
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I see lots of advantages to choice # 3, which I believe is to spend all your time in Italy. I think that will give you the best chance of making the most of your time.

And much as I love Naples and Sicily, I wouldn't suggest that you include either on this trip. They are some distance from where you will be, and are near many other things that you'll want to visit one day, so wait for another trip to visit them.

Venice, Florence, and Rome (with or without a few side trips) make a lot of sense for the time you've got.

kja is offline  
Dec 13th, 2012, 11:58 PM
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I think that your third option is your best one! There is so much that Italy has to offer and so many sights that you can go and see. Im sure you will make it across the pond again at some point and you can explore another country. If you focus on one country you will be able to do more then scratch the surface and you will not be in a rush or feel obligated to hurry through one city so you can get to the next. You will also cut down on time spent traveling as the travel time between Florence, ROme and Venice is minimal. Have a look on www.trenitalia.com so that you can get the relevant train information and see ticket prices to help you in regards to your budget.
Also you have said about staying in a hotel. I would look to renting an apartment as they are normally cheaper then hotels and you would have more space etc. There are a plethora of websites that you can look at to find apartments that will offer internet and be in a prime location. Maybe by staying in an apartment you will spend less and some of the money from your 1500USD can be spent elsewhere!!! i rented a flat in rome through a company called nextaway. had an overall good experience as the landlord was nice and really helpful.
maiteland is offline  
Dec 14th, 2012, 07:57 AM
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>>>4N Venice (including lake district and on the way to venice - sienna or pisa)<<<

Siena and Pisa are not on the way to Venice.

>>>(fly into Venice )4N Venice (including lake district) - 4N Florence (including tuscany, sienna)- 3N Rome - 4N Any 1 beach in naples or sicily or Lido or any other, can explore more beaches from one base taking day trips (fly back from Rome)<<<

You seriously need to look at a map and figure out the time it takes to reach places especially if you are depending on public transport. The lake district isn't a practical day trip from Venice. There is a beach area north of Venice (Lido di Jesolo) or the Venice Lido.


>>>3N Rome - 4N Venice (including lake district and on the way to venice - sienna or pisa) - 2N Sevilla - 2N Granada - 4N Barcelona (fly back )<<<

This plan is not at all practical. Too little time at destinations and too much time on transport. Try listing a day-by-day itinerary with sights you want to see and how much time it will take to reach them.
kybourbon is online now  
Dec 14th, 2012, 08:59 AM
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We agree with the above and travel with the idea it is better to see a few palces well, than many poorly. Switzerland is one of the few places we have visited and would never return. While there is natural beauty, it is bland and dull as mayonnaise sandwich.

It is easy to spend 17 days in either Spain and Italy. What first timers do not realize is how different the topography, the culture, the food, and the history is from region to region.
Golemtoo is offline  
Dec 14th, 2012, 10:37 AM
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for such a wide-ranging trip I'd take the train and also because you are going to largely big cities where cars are more and more a liability - many Italian towns ban private cars from city centers, parking can be problematic and expensive, etc

Plus travel time between your proposed OP sites is significant and trains can go up to around 190 mph at times and you can also hop overnight trains to relocated large distances at night - like when going between Paris and Spain, hop the Hotel Train - save cost of a hotel and daytime travel times.

to plan a European rail trip I always spotlight these IMO fantastic sources - www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com. And with such a wide-ranging trip some kind of Eurail Pass would seem to be a good deal - lets yo chose your trains as you go along and not pre-book some discounted but often non-changeable non-refundable ticket weeks in advance.
PalenQ is offline  

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