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2 Week European Itinerary

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Dec 12th, 2013, 07:04 AM
  #1
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2 Week European Itinerary

New to the forum. My girlfriend and I are trying to plan out a European trip. We got a suggestion from one of her co-workers who recently went on a tour with a company called GoAhead, where they did a Grand Tour of Europe in 16 days. They visited London, Paris, Amsterdam, Heidelberg, Lucerne, Como, Venice, and Rome.

I've read several different posts here, both old (as far back as 2007) and new (as recent as this week) suggesting that a self-planned trip is far better than going with a tour group. I've been leaning towards the self-planned trip b/c I learned that we would be traveling 7 hours by bus to go from one place to another (I forgot the location, I think it's Como to Venice)

So my question to you guys is this: we want to do at least 2 weeks (at least the same 16 day time frame), our top countries/cities are London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Venice and Florence. It's unrealistic to say we can do 3-4 countries in 16 days, let alone visit these cities with so much history. So I'm posing the question to you guys, what would be an ideal 16-day itinerary for 2 people who have never visited Europe?
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Dec 12th, 2013, 07:16 AM
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Reality check:

16 days, -2.5 days to get to/from Europe and deal w/ the jet lag/logistics, -.5 day every time you move from one city to the next (and that is best case) . . . leaves you approx 10 or 11 days free to see/do things. And you want to visit 6 major cities - three of which (London, Paris, Rome) are enormous.

I'd pick the 3 (or at VERY most 4) cities - and even that will be rushed.

The tours manage their pace by 1) leaving very early every morning, 2) bypassing most major sites (you get to 'see' them but not actually go inside), 3) spending whole days traveling by bus.
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Dec 12th, 2013, 07:26 AM
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I agree. Pick 3 cities you most want to see. You could easily have a nice 2 week trip to Italy, since while you can easily visit cities in 3 different countries in no way can you "do 3-4 countries" in that time.

To me an ideal first trip to Europe would - and did - include some place besides the famous capitals/tourist cities. But everyone's different in their preferences.
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Dec 12th, 2013, 07:30 AM
  #4
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Thanks for the quick reply! If I were to pick Rome + Paris as 2 of the 3 cities that we'd like to go to, which other city would you recommend, and how long would you stay in each?

Full disclosure, we're fully aware we're not going to get to everything in a week and a half. We're not interested in going just to say we've been, we'd really like to see the sights and set our own pace.
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Dec 12th, 2013, 07:41 AM
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our top countries/cities are London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Venice and Florence.>

14 days means 12 days really - arrival and departure days not being counted really.

Land in London

day 2, 3, 4 London

Take Eurostar train to Paris (2 hours - lose one hour on the clock)

Paris

Day 5, 6 , 7

day 8 - Paris and overnight train to Venice

day 10, 11 Venice

12, 13 Florence

14, 15, 16 Rome

fly home from Rome

now this to many will be too fast and I think for the average first-time visitor OK - group tours are often even more rushed. Amsterdam is an outlier here - just won't work unless you ax Italy somewhat.

Take trains between cities as cars are useless once in cities, trains go up to nearly 200 mph on many routes, etc. Check www.eurostar.com for Eurostar tickets London to Paris - book your own online; www.thello.com for the Paris to Venice overnight train and for general info on European trains I always spotlight these superb IMO sites - www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.

Well there is an itinerary that I believe is perfect for first time visitors and according to your prefernces - add in a few days if you can in Venice and Florence and may be do day trip from Florence to one of those fabled Tuscany hill towns, like Siena - a cheap short bus ride from Florence as a day trip.
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Dec 12th, 2013, 07:43 AM
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OK -- If Rome and Paris are the 'musts' - you could fly into Rome, then train to either Venice or Florence, fly to Paris, fly home from there.

If you have 16 days (including travel days) you could do something like 5 days Rome, 3 days Florence or Venice, 6 days Paris (which is actually a bit less in each city after deducting checking in/out, travel)

That is just one option but totally doable.
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Dec 12th, 2013, 07:49 AM
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With your times you are caught between the basic
London, Paris, Rome

and the more interesting
London, Paris, Venice, Florence, Rome

My choice might be affected by the time of year, so avoiding too much time in Italy between the last week in July and mid August. I think I would try and stike out one Italian city.

Rome offers an ancient city stuck in the middle of a capital city, Florence offers the Renaissance while Venice is a city built in the middle of a lagoon. Each is so special that you have to make the choice.
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Dec 12th, 2013, 08:00 AM
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We did London/Paris/Brugge-Brussels/Amsterdam on our trip trains super close to each othe could have done without brussels (brugge much nicer) but amsterdam/london/paris were wonderful.
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Dec 12th, 2013, 08:00 AM
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this is very similar to what we are looking to do!

@palenq thank you for the possibly itinerary! good to hear that seems doable because we want to do that this may but people said that would be too much
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Dec 12th, 2013, 08:03 AM
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Yeah, the reason I suggested 16 days is that we probably couldn't take a longer trip than that b/c of our jobs. We might be able to squeeze an extra day or two, who knows.

We're looking at May 2015 as a date, which gives us plenty of time to plan the entire thing out, but I wanted to get the opinion of the board before I really start digging in.

Appreciate the responses and keep it coming!
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Dec 12th, 2013, 08:03 AM
  #11
 
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meant to add we also did venice/florence/rome/amalfi which was great but for first time trip to europe i think you would see more of a difference btw countires and enjoy the change if you stuck to Amsterdam(must see) Paris and London trip. 3 of my all time favorites
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Dec 12th, 2013, 08:17 AM
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ngnurse: >>@palenq thank you for the possibly itinerary! good to hear that seems doable because we want to do that this may but people said that would be too much<<

You do need to understand where PQ is coming from. He loves (LOVES) train travel and often says the travel is as important as actually being every where. Many would say his suggested itinerary is too much in too little time. But maybe you also love trains/train stations . . .
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Dec 12th, 2013, 09:31 AM
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Well at least you realize that you can't do it all in one trip. The "Grand Tour of Europe in 16 days.", is hilarious.

I would suggest you start by forgetting the word 'Europe'. Whenever someone starts with 'visiting Europe' you can be sure they will then list too much to see/do in too little time. It's about the mindset using that word immediately puts you into.

So forget 'Europe' and instead substitute a country. Two weeks or 16 days is enough to start with for a country, not all of Europe. Each country in Europe has enough to see/do to keep you busy for years.

Or, if cities are your thing with Rome and Paris being top of your wish list, then those 2 alone are enough for your entire 16 days.

In travel less is always more. The more you move the more it costs, the less you move the more you save.

People always say in some way that they want to 'see/do as much as possible. But they make the mistake of thinking the word 'much' is synonymous with the word 'many'. They are not synonymous and the way to see as much as possible is to spend your time IN places, not in BETWEEN places. Move less, see/do more.

The real issue is always the mindset people start out with. 'I'm going to Europe'. Forget that. If you started out saying, 'we're going to Paris and Rome, you wouldn't be posting anything like this. You'd simply be asking about those 2 places.
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Dec 12th, 2013, 09:45 AM
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@palenq thank you for the possibly itinerary! good to hear that seems doable because we want to do that this may but people said that would be too much>

yes some say you must stay a week in each place to forget it - and about spending most of your time in trains and stations the total train travel time for your cities is all of 7 hours! (Not counting the overnight train where you can sleep and also save on the cost of a hotel.

7 hours on trains in a 2-week period well that is too much for some but for most relaxing and yes you do see the Europe between the big cities that some think you should spend all your time in.

Well it is a matter of personal opinion - I would urge you to add some time to each major stop but if you only have 16 days and wish to see 4 main tourist cities it is feasible. And folks who say you must spend a week in a place or it is not worth it well that is their opinion and that is what they like.

Some folks who degrade train travel in actuality never or rarely take trains as for them even an hour on a train is a waste of time that could be better spend to them in another church or another museum.
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Dec 12th, 2013, 09:51 AM
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Nobody is degrading train travel. But VERY few people like to travel the way you do, Pal, unless they're 18 and backpacking/hosteling all over the Continent. I love trains and on a typical 3-week trip will spend about 12 or more hours on trains (in a single country). But most people actually want to get OFF the train and see things in some depth - why else go in the first place(you can spend days on trains here in the USA, for example, if you wish).
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Dec 12th, 2013, 09:55 AM
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7 hours on trains in a 2-week period is excessive to you St Cirq?

Really!
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Dec 12th, 2013, 10:06 AM
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no - it isn't '7 hours' - for instance that '2 hour' London to Paris is actually more like 5 or 6 hours in real life. You lose one hour due to time zones. You lose another hour packing and checking out. Maybe 30 mins from the hotel to St Pancras. 20 or 30 mins from Gare du Nord to the next hotel. Another 30+ mins checking in/unpacking.

No one 'degrades' train travel (did you perhaps mean denigrate?? ) Heck - I tool the Eurostar twice in October -- love it. But too much train travel anf too many places in a short time . . . whole 'nuther story.
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Dec 12th, 2013, 10:07 AM
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That should read >> I took the Eurostar twice . . . <<
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Dec 12th, 2013, 10:10 AM
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I live in Washington, DC, and we have an extensive rail system. It's what I use to get around, I don't have a car and primarily rely on trains. I don't see how riding a train from London to Paris in 2 hours is inconvenient. It's appealing, and is what I suggested to my girlfriend, to find a location where can take advantage of the rail system.

@palenQ - I'm assuming to get from Venice to Florence, and Florence to Rome, you're using Italia Rail?
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Dec 12th, 2013, 10:16 AM
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No I am using Trenitalia - the state railway of Italy's times for their very frequent trains. www.trenitalia.com but I prefer to get times at www.bahn.de/en - the German Railways online pan-European schedule site.

and yes I do think seeing some of Europe - the Europe between cities like London and Paris or Venice and Florence, etc is as enjoyable to me - to me not others - as spending a few more hours trekking around yet another museum or church.

But each has their own travel style and who is to say who is right and wrong - well some here are didactic in saying it's there way or the highway (or train line in this case!)

European trains are very modern and comfortable not the complete hassle and drag some make them out to be - in a pain the proverbial rear but a way to see some of Europe besides dwelling forever in say a few cities.
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