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2 week trip to Europe (france, italy, switzerland & greece) HELP?!

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Mar 10th, 2012, 10:53 AM
  #1
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2 week trip to Europe (france, italy, switzerland & greece) HELP?!

Hello

My family is planning to go on a 2 week trip to Europe mid-June to early July. (it's very short due to work schedules) My dad wanted to go to these four countries for the trip: France, Italy, Switzerland & Greece.

So I have a couple questions

1) Are four countries in 2 weeks feasible?
2) Do you have a timeline/guide on how which one we should go to first etc. (and if anything, where you would recommend going in terms of cities -- for france, we're most likely going to see Paris, Italy.. .maybe Florence & Venice, Switzerland... I honestly have no idea & Greece.. probably Rome)
3) if you have other suggestions or places that we must definitely see for these cities/countries, let me know.
3) in terms of transportation, what would you recommend? It's a family of three people. so would taking the train be better or renting like a car?
4) And if you recommend the train, what kind of tickets do we get/how can we get them in advance? (I live in America if that helps..)

Sorry there's a lot of questions... planning such a short trip to a huge place is a bit overwhelming..
umxhm is offline  
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Mar 10th, 2012, 10:58 AM
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Welcome!

Some thoughts:

1) you cant cover 4 countries in 2 weeks. You may be able to see 4 places in four weeks so you need to decide what you want to see first. Remember that moving around increases your costs and decreases your sightseeing/vacation time as it takes approx. 1/2 a day to change locations when you account for travel time, checking in and out of hotels, getting to and from airports/train stations, finding your hotels etc. You wont have time to do Paris, Florence, Venice, Switzerland, Greece and Rome so you will need to prioritise.

2) Definitely fly open jaw, into 1 city and out of another to ensure you dont have to waste time getting back to your first location. This shouldnt cost much extra, if any. Figure out what places you want to see and then look at flights.
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Mar 10th, 2012, 10:59 AM
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Pick one country-4 makes no sense
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Mar 10th, 2012, 11:08 AM
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I agree with Bob and Jamikins. In addition to the half-day time lost due to moving, I assume you are including your flight to and from Europe in this itinerary. That cuts out 2 of the 14 days.

Depending on where you live, you may also have to deal with jet lag. (I live in the inland northwest, and most of Europe is 9 hours ahead of me. Even if I catch a couple hours sleep on the flight, the first day after I land is pretty much wasted.)

I'd spend the whole two weeks in one country if it were my trip.

Get a guidebook--one of those best of Europe books, so you can get an idea of what to see.
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Mar 10th, 2012, 11:08 AM
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How many cities should I limit it down to? I'm a little confused when you say "place" does that mean like a location within the cities? or is a "place" equivalent to a city?

But I guess to specify, this trip is more like a teaser (like dipping a toe into a pool) into Europe. So I don't mind glancing than really looking through each place. Most likely I'm going to be studying in England next summer and I'm pretty sure my parents are returning to Europe next summer as well. If that background information helps.
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Mar 10th, 2012, 11:14 AM
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Do you think Rome is in Greece or is that a typo?

I really disagree with the advice that you should "pick one country." And I very much hope you see Greece as well as Rome. But I have to ask: Why are you the one planning this trip if your father has picked all the destinations?

If you and your family want to include Greece, it is better, i think, to fly there first and work your way east.
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Mar 10th, 2012, 11:23 AM
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Some rules of thumb:
1. Average at least 3 nites per destination--more for major cities like Paris
2. Make your next destination a max of 4 hours travel time
3. Mix major cites with small cites or rural locations

In your case, a max of 4 destinations would apply.
Consider this:
Arrive Venice----3 nites
Train to Florence--3 [ day trip to Siena by bus]
Train to Lake Como--3---stay in Varenna
Train to Luzern via Lugano---3 nites
Fly home from Zurich.

That is a start!
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Mar 10th, 2012, 11:23 AM
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In 2 weeks I would choose 4 locations, some combination of:

Paris, Venice, Rome, Athens
Florence, Venice, Rome, Athens
Paris, Rome, Athens, Greek Islands

you get the idea. Any more than this and you will just arrive somewhere and then have to leave again. 3-4 days in each place will give you a nice taster.

Or of course you could pick 1 country - Rome, Venice, Florence and maybe a stop in Tuscany for a few days or the Cinque Terre would make a great trip.

Hope this helps!
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Mar 10th, 2012, 11:41 AM
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In twoweeks you should do no more than 4 cities at most - and that will be just quick running looks at things. To really see things in any depth yuo need to allow 5 days (6 nights) for major cities (Paris or Rome) and 3 days (4 nights) for smaller cities. If yuo want to do day trips into the countryside from the cities you need to add time to the cities.

Train or car depends very much on your itinerary. Cars make no sense at all in or between big cities (since you have to pay $30 or $40 per night for parking, plus however much for rental when the car injust sitting in a garage) - unless you want to spend several days touring the countryside.

Greece is an absolute outlier - taking a long time to get there - and you would need to fly - driving up your costs - and you would definitely need to stick to 2 countries at the most.

Before you do anything else you need to finalize time of year and your itinerary - then you can look at transport and hotels.

Also, have no idea what your budget is - but some countries - esp Switz - are much more expesnive than others. For instance the Big Mac meal that costs about $8 in the US will be $18 or $19 in Switz - and other costs (hotels, meals, transit) are equivalently high. So - if budget is an issue you may want to take that into account when deciding the itinerary.
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Mar 10th, 2012, 01:36 PM
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Taking into consideration the time of year (it's hotter in the south), how about

Fly into Rome, 4 days/4 nights (assuming you're arriving in the morning and will have your arrival day)
Train to Florence, 2 days/3 nights
Train to Venice, 2 days/3 nights
Fly to Paris, 3 days/4 nights
Fly home

Open jaws ticket are multi-city on the airline web sites. Easyjet has a flight from Venice Marco Polo to Paris Charles De Gaulle for $78/person on July 1.
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Mar 10th, 2012, 02:20 PM
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) in terms of transportation, what would you recommend? It's a family of three people. so would taking the train be better or renting like a car?>

depends IMO whether you go largely to large cities like most tourists understandably want to do or meander thru the countryside - train for the former as cars are getting more and more useless in European cities where wide swathes of them are off-limits to private vehicles, parking can cost a fortune and be hard to find and many hotels may not offer secure parking - cars for the latter.
Some great sights to understand the European rail system and plan a rail trip - and also with your proposed wide-ranging travels consider a railpass - if you kid is under 12 they get 50% off and under 4 goes free - www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com. Download the first sites free online European Planning & Rail Guide for rundowns of train travel in each country with suggested itineraries. Be sure to make time in your itinerary for kid friendly things that adults can enjoy as well - like the Swiss Alps in the fabulous Jungfrau region where toylike mountain trains and thrilling aerial cable cars go everywhere to glacier-girdled peaks - if you are from a warm climate here is the place to experience snow even in summer.
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Mar 10th, 2012, 03:39 PM
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I guess it's a decision about quality vs. quantity. A girl I know is going on a tour that covers 4 countries (Netherlands, Belgium, France and England) in 10 days which I think is crazy. She won't see much anywhere but it's the only way she can travel.

We've done both types of trips (one year we drove from Munich to Vienna and back in 2.5 weeks; this year we're spending 9 days in Paris) and both have pros and cons. We used Rick Steves guides and found him opinionated enough to help us make some tough decisions--you really can't go everywhere in two weeks! Good luck with your planning.
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