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1st Time to Europe in Aug/Sep: England/France/Portugal/Switz/Italy

1st Time to Europe in Aug/Sep: England/France/Portugal/Switz/Italy

Apr 24th, 2016, 08:00 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 2
1st Time to Europe in Aug/Sep: England/France/Portugal/Switz/Italy

Hi Everyone,

My husband and I are taking our first trip to Europe before starting a family at the end of August and into September, and we want to see as much as we can without running ourselves ragged by the end. We are okay with more go-go-go than not, though, and don't mind spending only 2 or 3 nights in most places. We won't change hotels once in a city. This itinerary is still being worked out and is tentative, as we are trying to gain insight from the experts!

We love being outside, good food, beautiful sites, hiking, beaches, gardens, and maybe a few museums (but not too many of them, truly.) We like getting off the beaten path and also some touristy sites and "to-dos" as well! So, we are truly open to anything. We will have 26 days total, including our travel days to and from Europe (which I know don't count for anything).

We are planning to:

Start in London (2 1/2 days)
Chunnel to Paris & see Versailles (2 1/2 days)
Fly to Lisbon/Algarve area to meet family (4 days)
Fly to Zurich/Bern and head straight to Interlaken/Jungfrau area (3 days with no time in Zurich or Bern other than landing there)
Train to Venice (1 full day in Venice - this destination is still up in the air...should we go here or do it next trip?)
Head down to Florence by train (1 or 2 full days here?)
Train to the Amalfi Coast (3 days here? Is this too long or too short?)
Fly to Crete to end at a resort there - this is happening for sure to end on a relaxing note. (4 days)
We will fly home from Rome or Athens at the end, but we are not spending any vacation time in these spots.

We really wanted to do Salzburg as well, but I don't think it's going to happen this time, and I'd rather go there when I can take things way slower and see more of the Amsterdam/Germany/Austria region when we come back next year, as we have family in Germany....Unless Salzburg is not to be missed and we should replace something on this list?! I do LOVE the Sound of Music!

We are sure we do not want to do the London Eye, Eiffel Tower, Cinque Terre, Rome, nor Capri this time and similar things like that this trip (we are A-OK with just walking by the Eiffel Tower and taking a picture on the ground with it ), and we are trying to figure out if this is too much to do in 24 days. We recognize that train times to some places might end up being travel instead of tourist days as well.

Any and all advice is welcome, even if it only speaks to one portion of the trip! We are grateful for the insight!
AnnaTufts is offline  
Apr 24th, 2016, 08:22 PM
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,207
By seeing everything you will see nothing. Just remember how much time you will lose packing and unpacking, checking in and out, getting to and from the train, plane, or bus plus the waiting and traveling time.

You did not say how much time you were taking.

Pick what you really want to see and see it.
IMDonehere is offline  
Apr 24th, 2016, 08:27 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 6,818
Anna, (me dear mom's name), I'll give it some thought and have suggestions when I have more time in a week or so. Good going! You're on your way to having a great, meaningful first brush with Europe. You may have to tame it down a bit to avoid "if it's Tuesday it must be Belgium" syndrome.
Stu T.
tower is offline  
Apr 24th, 2016, 08:28 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,585
A lot (LOT) of money to see a few places and many train stations/airports

Since you mention future trips - why are you trying to cover half of western Europe in three weeks? If you can put Venice off til later, you can also put off some of the rest of your list.
janisj is online now  
Apr 24th, 2016, 10:14 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 45,879
The only good thing I get out of this is that you won't be changing hotels once in a city.
StCirq is offline  
Apr 24th, 2016, 11:03 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 16,519
Hi, welcome to Fodors.

I'm confused. I'm often confused and you are going to have to help me.

Objective: "We like getting off the beaten path " so we are going to London, Paris, Lisbon/Algarve, Zurich, Venice, Florence, Amalfi, Crete. Now can you see what is wrong with this image?

Obj 2: "outside, good food, beautiful sites, hiking, beaches, garden" which part of mainly visiting large cities achieve this?

I would look at the following to achieve some of your targets

1) Algarve, add the Alentjeo and keep an eye of the north west coast of the Algarve which turns into a series of wonderful beaches and natural parks as you head up the coast. Most of the Algarve is a hell-hole of golf courses, but in amongst the buses you will find some nice places, your family will advise better than I can.

2) So I'm just going to ignore the rest of your plan as it fails to achieve your objectives. But why not look as Lake Constance, the Mosel, Normandy, The Tarn valley, the Fjords and the The Fjells in Norway, Tuscany based in a smaller citta, the Dolomites.

Hope that helps
bilboburgler is offline  
Apr 24th, 2016, 11:46 PM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 841
"Chunnel to Paris & see Versailles (2 1/2 days)"

The Eurostar train is what you board to get to Paris, "chunnel" is a word that was coined (by our "much loved" tabloid newspapers) when the channel tunnel was being built but is not really used in the UK anymore........Americans though seem to love that word.
Hooameye is offline  
Apr 24th, 2016, 11:52 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,313
Some thoughts. London and Paris are major tourist destinations and most people would need 4+ days and 5 nights just to get a feel for these cities. Lisbon and the Algarve are two separate locations within the country separated by 250 km or so. Travel from Lisbon to to Interlaken will probably take up much of a day and might be rather expensive. Why Crete?
I like Crete but its not the easiest place to get to and requires a stop, likely Athens from Italy. The travel time and cost might be rather high unless you are departing from Rome. Why not just relax on the Amalfi? Lastly why not spend some time in Rome since you will already be there? Seems like a waste. Consider London,Paris, Portugal and Italy for your trip.
mjs is offline  
May 10th, 2016, 11:59 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 6,818
too many countries (in some cases wide apart), too little time. Consult a map and you'll soon see what I mean. The best suggestion is from "mjs" above...cut it back to London, Paris, Portugal and Italy...more than enough to experience at this time.
tower is offline  
May 10th, 2016, 12:03 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,585
I don't think Anna was serious -- she never returned. Either that or the poor girl is sitting at home thinking "Those ^%$#* Fodorites haven't bothered to respond."
janisj is online now  
May 10th, 2016, 12:18 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 76,555
For trains booking early can yield deep discounted tickets thru the national railways on the countries involved - for great info on planning the rail part check www.seat61.com - great info on discounted tickets; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

In Switzerland a Swiss Pass or Swiss Transfer Ticket could be a good deal even for just a few days depending on what you plan on doing - www.swisstravelsystem.com for lots of neat stuff on Swiss transports.
PalenQ is online now  
May 10th, 2016, 02:04 PM
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 2,585
"if it's Tuesday it must be Belgium"

Of course ! It was tuesday and I was in Belgium.

Well at last in the morning and evening, the day in Germany. Tomorrow in Paris.

Ah bah, week-end is another long one.
Whathello is offline  
May 10th, 2016, 02:11 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 76,555
whatgoodbye - why not bop to the Netherlands to make a 4 country sweep?

I agree Less can indeed be More- this trip is even a tad too rushed for me - and that is saying a lot!

Get the scalpel out!
PalenQ is online now  
May 15th, 2016, 01:02 PM
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 2
Great plan but certainly very tiring. I would at least skip Switzerland and would not miss neither Paris nor Venice. Since you are going to Creete for sure, i suggest that you should take some rest on Elafonissi beach, you are definitely going to need and enjoy relaxing on the pinky beach. Great pity you'll be seeing Rome just from the ..plane..
sharonkhar is offline  
May 15th, 2016, 05:49 PM
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 235
This is way too much to tackle for a first trip. My suggestion is to decide on either the Mediterranean or more northern areas but not both in the time frame that you have and the objectives that you have set. I am simply amazed that you would fly home from either Rome or Athens and not allocate vacation time there. That would be a big mistake, I think.

I strongly recommend that you modify the itinerary and focus on a smaller geographic area allocating time to absorb and enjoy what is on offer.
rogandgee is offline  
May 16th, 2016, 06:58 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 76,555
Less indeed can be more!
PalenQ is online now  

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