2.5 weeks in Europe

Old Jan 14th, 2013, 10:48 AM
  #1  
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2.5 weeks in Europe

Me and two other friends are planning a trip to Europe this August and due to work we only have 2.5 weeks. We really want to visit Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and France. Is it possible to do this in this short amount of time? If so, what are your recommendations on pulling it off? We're young and willing to kind of rough it so we don't mind night trains, etc.
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Old Jan 14th, 2013, 10:58 AM
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jgg
 
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With 2.5 weeks, thats about 17 days and you have listed five countries (not cities, countries), that would give you 3.5 days in each country. Not really doable in my opinion. First, you need to think about which places in the countries you want to see. Is Rome what you want to see in Italy, or do you also want to see Tuscany or hike the Cinque Terre? In Germany, do you want to see the Black Forest or hang out in Berlin? In France will seeing a bit of Paris do, or would you also like to learn some of the WWII history in Normandy? That doesn't even touch on Greece and Switzerland, but I think you probably get the idea.

Start thinking through what you really want to see and do, big cities, countryside? Night trains will help you get from one place to another without using up time during the day, and you are young so can probably do more than we are used to, but I still think you need to narrow things down a bit.
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Old Jan 14th, 2013, 11:36 AM
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Do not think countries---makes no sense. Think regions or cities.

Greece is too far---Switz. is too expensive---Italy is so diverse it takes 6 weeks alone.
In your time, here is what may be feasible:
Paris---4
French Riviera---3
Venice---3
Florence---3
Rome--4 [ fly home]
That is a nice trip that is doable.
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Old Jan 14th, 2013, 12:57 PM
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I think there are several assumptions made here.

Your posting: "possible to do this" assumes others understand what it means by "do". The others assume you want do some usual assortment of activities and arrive at the number of days to complete those activities.

You can physically visit these places in 2.5 weeks. So it can be done = be visited.

However you have non clarified objectives regarding what you plan to do at each stop. If you rely on others to fill out what to do at each stop, for example, Paris must be 3 full days or it cannot be done, etc, then you will most certainly run out of days allocated. This is a matter of fitting activities to optimize whatever is important to you within your constraints = days. It is possible that you have one activity in Greece so important to you that you are willing to take away three days from Italy, etc. But only you can make that kind of trade-off.

To findout out just how much moving around overhead takes away from your days, use www.bahn.com for trains and http://www.whichbudget.com/ for planes. You will probably have to draft many different scenarios within connection constraints. You can probably throw away many plans as simply not worth doing from your point of view.
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Old Jan 14th, 2013, 01:12 PM
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for train schedules www.bahn.de - maybe greg's www.bahn.com is the same - anyways the official site of the German Railways and a scheduling site I use for train schedules all over Europe - easiest one I've seen to use. For a link to its English schedule page go to the home page of www.budgeteuropetravel.com and click on the wordings "Best Online European Train Schedule or some such wording and up pops the English schedule page - I reference this link because they also give you several valuable tips on using the Wunderbar German Railways site that may not be apparent at first glance.

For lots of great European train info check out the above site as well as www.seat61.com (great info on online discounted tickets, which however typically are train-specific and non-changeable nor refundable and much often be booked weeks in advance as they are sold in limited numbers - if you want flexibility to chose trains as you go along then a railpass in most countries (with a few exceptions like France, Italy and Spain) lets you hop on any train anytime and full fare tickets that allow this can be very expensive.
Whether a railpass is a good idea or not depends on how many trains you want to take and whether you desire flexibilty or not and whether or not you want first class travel - mosty passes for folks over 25 come only in first class and IME of decades of incessant European rail travel I do advise for the general traveler on the trip of a lifetime and especially those that may be hauling around luggage to consider first class as it is a more relaxed way - bigger seats, more empty seats and even gratis Wii and snacks more and more.
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Old Jan 14th, 2013, 01:24 PM
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Yes, you can get to all of those countires in 2.5 weeks - the question is - what do you really want to see (it won;t be much!)? Do you want to spend 2 day in one city in each place?

Do you want to see more cities?

What do you want to do/see?

Without more info it's hard to make a sensible reco.
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Old Jan 14th, 2013, 04:33 PM
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I agree - we need more information about what you want to do and see. In general though, it seems madness to try to fit this much into such a short time. You will spend a lot of time and money moving between places and not much actually in the places you go.
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Old Jan 15th, 2013, 08:40 AM
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2.5 weeks. We really want to visit Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and France. Is it possible to do this in this short amount of time? If so, what are your recommendations on pulling it off?>

Of course it is possible though it is way too fast for most folks - but I often travel very fast and I like traveling actually more than staying in say Rome for five days - it's a matter of personal style and here is how it can be done:

Land in Paris - take a train to Germany - say Munich - go down thru Switzerland to Italy and then either fly or take an overnight ferry from Italy to Greece - fly home from Greece. Four days in each country - well really 3 as travel time will consume a day between each - but you can also
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Old Jan 17th, 2013, 11:28 AM
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You'll lose a day at each end flying and at least a half day getting from country to country. If you are interested in seeing airports, train stations, checking in and out of hotels, hauling your luggage up and down stairs, on and off buses - then you'll have a blast doing 5 countries in 2.5 weeks.
Otherwise, take a look at a map and pick a country or two.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2013, 11:56 AM
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Thank you all so much for your replies, it has given me a better idea of what's possible. I realize that it was immature to assume we could attempt all these places so we have narrowed it down to two separate options and i would love to know what your recommendations would be:

Option 1: Focus on Spain, French Riviera, Italy, then hop to Greece for a couple days. More specifically fly into Madrid, spend a day or so there, head to Barcelona, spend a day or two then make our way to the French Riviera (we don't care much about this, one stop would be great),possibly stop in Monaco then head to Italy. We would love to do the italian riviera, Florence and Venice (that's all that we really care to do it Italy). Then fly to Greece and spend a couple of days (we were told Greece is overrated so 1-2 days max is great). Does this trip sound doable? If so, do you think it's a good way to spend the 2.5 weeks that we have? If not what would you recommend?

Option 2: Focus on Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. I'm not quite sure how we'd go about it but these are the specific sites we'd like to see: Madrid & Barcelona in Spain, Either Paris or French Riviera in France (I know it's probably not possible to do both), Neuschwanstein in Germany, The alps in Switzerland, then Florence, Venice, Riviera in Italy. Is this possible? and if so is this a better way to spend the 2.5 weeks. Any help would be much appreciated and sorry for the long post.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2013, 03:15 PM
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Pick 2----see above.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2013, 04:11 PM
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I really wonder what you could do in a couple of days in Greece and why you think that it is overrated....

Greece is a country that you cannot see in a couple of days...

I would suggest that you totally skip it, and add these days to Italy
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Old Jan 23rd, 2013, 06:26 AM
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Then fly to Greece and spend a couple of days (we were told Greece is overrated so 1-2 days max is great)>

Ignore the comment about Freece being overrated IMO - I have been there several times and loved it - very different from the rest of Europe in many ways - and if you have just a few days then yes go to Athens, do the Parthenon, etc and you will have a great time (also go to Daphne (sp?) for the perpetual wine festival in suburban Athens) - have some baklava, etc and fly home from there.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2013, 11:30 AM
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Option 2 is better.

But you still have 5 *countries* and only 17 day's time. So that's only 1-2 days per country once you subtract the train/plane ride times.

Definitely leave out Greece. It's the one that most doesn't fit with your plans.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2013, 11:33 AM
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Distilling to the heart of your itinerary, this would work in 2-1/2 weeks:

Madrid, Barcelona, Italian Riviera, Florence and Venice.

That's still an aggressive pace with only a few days in each place, but at least it's do-able.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2013, 11:39 AM
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I suggest Paris, the alps, and Venice. It will give you tremendous variety while keeping you out of the heat.

HOWEVER, that is a pricey trip. If you are watching pennies, go to Spain and Greece. They are not "overrated". They are truly beautiful fun places with tapas and olives and terrific people and music, plus blue seas and great sights.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2013, 03:29 PM
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Madrid, Barcelona, Italian Riviera, Florence and Venice.>

substitute the French Riveria IMO for the Italian Riviera to get a taste of France as well and IMO the French Riviera tops anything the Italian Riviera offers except maybe beaches - Italian Riviera towns are fairly the same IME but there is so so much diversity in the compact French Riviera - Nice, Cannes, Monaco all very different and then the proverbial hill towns - dreamy towns like At-Paul-de-Vence and Vence and Grasse (perfume facoty tours are a hit here) - fly to Nice from Barcelona and then fly from Nice to either Venice or Florence and end up in Rome.
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 01:59 PM
  #18  
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Awesome, Thanks for all of your help, the comments are very much appreciated. So we have narrowed it down and come up with this final tentative itinerary. Let me know what your thoughts are - please keep in mind we are young and like to push hard and travel fast. We'd rather see as much as we can instead of going to multiple museums etc and relax. We would like to hit top sites in each place then get out of there:

Day 1: Fly to Madrid, spend day/evening relaxing in Madrid (we will be staying with a friend who lives there so she is familiar with the city and can show us around
Day 2: Madrid/Overnight train to Barcelona
Day 3arcelona
Day 4: Barcelona
Day 5: Fly to Nice
Day 6: Nice and surrounding area
Day 7: Travel to Cinque Terre
Day 8: Cinque Terre
Day 9: Cinque Terre
Day 10: Travel to Florence
Day 11: Florence
Day 12: Florence
Day 13: Travel to Rome
Day 14: Rome
Day 15: Rome
Day 16: Travel to Venice
Day 17: Venice
Day 18: Venice
*This still leaves us with about 3 extra days.

Questions:
1. What would you do with the 3 extra days?

2. Where would you add/subtract days?
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 02:08 PM
  #19  
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Awesome, Thanks for all of your help, the comments are very much appreciated. So we have narrowed it down and come up with this final tentative itinerary. Let me know what your thoughts are - please keep in mind we are young and like to push hard and travel fast. We'd rather see as much as we can instead of going to multiple museums etc and relax. We would like to hit top sites in each place then get out of there:

Day 1: Fly to Madrid, spend day/evening relaxing in Madrid (we will be staying with a friend who lives there so she is familiar with the city and can show us around
Day 2: Madrid/Overnight train to Barcelona
Day 3arcelona
Day 4: Barcelona
Day 5: Fly to Nice
Day 6: Nice and surrounding area
Day 7: Travel to Cinque Terre
Day 8: Cinque Terre
Day 9: Cinque Terre
Day 10: Travel to Florence
Day 11: Florence
Day 12: Florence
Day 13: Travel to Rome
Day 14: Rome
Day 15: Rome
Day 16: Travel to Venice
Day 17: Venice
Day 18: Venice
*This still leaves us with about 3 extra days.

Questions:
1. What would you do with the 3 extra days? a. fly to one island in greece maybe Mikonos and spend a couple days there (we realize there is SO much to do in Greece so we'd have to choose one place and we're young and single) or just do greece on an entirely different trip? b. spend more time in southern spain at the beginning? c. use the couple days to do Paris?

2. Where would you add/subtract days?
3. Through research this is the best route we could come up with - do you think switching up the order would be better/cheaper/less time consuming?
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 02:09 PM
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I'd put at least one more day on Madrid, right at the start of your trip.
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