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TinaNY Jan 6th, 2015 07:48 AM

3 Weeks in Europe - First Time Solo Travel
Dear Fodorites ,

My itinerary , for a first time visit to Europe. Based on my likes , dislikes , reading I have narrowed down to Italy and France with a Stop over in Switzerland.

Looking forward to your comments

Day 0 - Fly into Rome
Day 1 & 2 - Rome
Day 3 - Pompeii & Herculean Day Tour
Day 4 - Rome
Day 5 - Train to Pisa and onwards to Florence -Overnight Florence
Day 6 - Florence
Day 7 - Florence -> Venice
Day 8 - 10 ->> Venice Including Islands of Murano & Burano
Day 11 Venice - Milan Overnight Milan
Day 12 Milan
Day 13 - Milan - > Spiez - > Interlaken
Day 14 - Intelaken
Day 15 - Interlaken
Day 16 - Onward Train to Paris
Day 17- 19 Paris
Day 20 - Flyback

bilboburgler Jan 6th, 2015 07:54 AM

Welcome to Fodors

How much you gear are you bringing?
What do you want to do in Interlaken?

Kathie Jan 6th, 2015 07:56 AM

As far as I can tell, you have 3 days in Rome plus a day trip out of Rome, one day to explore Florence, one day to explore Venice, one day in Milan, two in Interlake, 3 days in Paris. Will that give you enough times in these places to see/do/experience what you want? For me, it would not. Consider whether fewer stops would be better. In general, the more stops you make on a trip, the less time you have to see/do the things you came for. One day to explore a place is never enough for me - I don't know about you. But I would cut a couple of the one-day places in order to have more time to explore. So, for instance, I'd cut Milan And Florence and add that time to Venice.

I want to give you kudos for not scheduling any one night stays, which effectively give no time for sightseeing.

TinaNY Jan 6th, 2015 08:02 AM

Bilboburgler - Sorry , My excitement got the better of me. Late March - Early April
Interlaken for the scenery- Any suggestions ? Tweaks ?

Kathie - Days 8 through 10 are for Venice.Do you still suggest cutting out Florence.?

TDudette Jan 6th, 2015 08:05 AM

I would want another day in Paris, Rome and Venice, but that's just personal preference. Where Kathie would cut Milan and Florence, I'd cut Interlaken.

This is so personal but I'd never cut Florence for my first trip to Italy.

TinaNY Jan 6th, 2015 08:21 AM

Thanks TDudette ,Reg one extra day in Paris- I was counting on Day 16 as well , giving me a total of 3 and half days.
Well , this is how Interlaken crept in to the agenda - I was looking for Trains between Milan and Paris and Interlaken looked like a good stop over and have heard endless stories on the Scenic beauty of the lakes and the alps not to mention the castles.

tom_mn Jan 6th, 2015 08:48 AM

Since I am also planning a trip to Italy here are some things I learned:

Train ticket prices vary widely in Europe over time and buying in advance (and locking in a specific train) usually saves a pile of money, although if you miss that train you will lose your money. The site for the Italian train system is You must use placenames in Italian (Roma Termini, Venezia Santa Lucia, Firenze S.M. Novella, Napoli Centrale, etc). There is another website for the private fast trains, although the prices seem a bit higher for these trains.

While most of Europe seems to start selling rail tickets 90-93 days in advance, Italy is 120 days in advance so you can start to buy tickets now. Some routes, like in and out of Pisa, may have ticket prices that don't vary over time, you'll have to check. It is a long walk from the train station in Pisa to the leaning tower so you will have to check your bags at the station.

Day bus tours from Rome to Pompeii and area are really pricy, about $175, and if you feel adventurous you could easily go by rail for less than $50 with admissions. Fast trains Rome to Naples start at 9 euros each way and only take 1 hour, and then a day pass from Naples on the Vesuviana commuter train that passes by both Pompeii and Herculeneum ruins would be about 6 euros.

For the rail trip from Switzerland to Paris you can book this at, about 92 days in advance.

Enjoy the strong dollar!

bilboburgler Jan 6th, 2015 09:09 AM

I'd cull Milan and possibly Interlaken. I would not cut Florence.

Probably some fog or chilly/wet at some point, all in all suggests stay in the city rather than hike around

panecott Jan 6th, 2015 09:26 AM

Tina, overall I think it's a good itinerary, but kathie and TDudette are right about cutting out one place and devoting more time to the others.

I would cut out Milan and add the time to Florence, or split the days between Florence and Paris. Of course, that is my personal preference.

I spent a few days in Interlaken many years ago and remember it as very scenic and idyllic. If that's what you're looking for, then by all means you should go. Of course, most places in Switzerland will offer gorgeous scenery.

You haven't told us your interests, but Florence is for art lovers and shoppers, so if those things appeal to you, the extra days there will give you plenty of time for that. You could also do a day trip to Siena or Cortona (two lovely hill towns) from there.

I think the way you have divided your time - especially if you cut out one place - will give you a reasonable taste of the places you are visiting, but you will probably find that you want to return to all of them.

There will be no shortage of things to see and do in any of those places but if you should feel so inclined, there are interesting day trips from virtually all of them.

TDudette Jan 6th, 2015 09:29 AM

Gotcha, Tina. Check the train schedules to get an idea of times and watch for hotels still closed for the winter. We had that occur in Lake Como in March when we visited some years ago.

For your first time, I think it's a good itinerary. You WILL return to further explore the various places you fall in love with!

FWIW, twice we worked with American Express for hotels when we did several city trips. How will you be choosing your hotels?

Mimar Jan 6th, 2015 09:39 AM

You haven't said what you want to do in Interlaken. Early April isn't the ideal time for Switzerland. It's the tail end of ski season and the weather's not great. If you don't want to ski, you might do better based in a city like Lucerne and take excursions to the mountains when/if the weather's nice.

Or save expensive Switzerland for another time when you can go in better weather.

nytraveler Jan 6th, 2015 09:39 AM

Okay - March is still winter in Switz - and unless you want winter sports the outdoors will be cold and you will not see the pretty scenery, lakes etc that you would in high season. Before deciding to stay in Interlaken I would check the weather and also find out if the lake steamers run at all in March - it may be too soon.

Separately you are definitely underestimating the time you need in Paris - I would ant 5 days (6 nights) for a first trip. I would cut Milan and Interlaken - much as I love Switz - I wouldn;t do it in March except for skiing.

And be aware that you can have chilly rain and/or fog almost anyplace in March.

be sure you take a sturdy folding umbrella and 2 pair of well broken in, comfy waterproof walking shoes (once damp they are unlikely to be dry the next day).

sandralist Jan 6th, 2015 09:43 AM

I would give a lot more thought to trying to enjoy the Alps of Switzerland in that time frame. Your original post is tagged "France", so a lot of people who might advise you about Switzerland might not even open up your thread to look at it.

In March and April it is very typical for Switzlerand to have lots of rain and fog, which means reduced visibility for views and trails too muddy to hike. You've twice mentioned "scenery" in your posts about the Alps, so I highly recommend you get more information about weather in those months.

From my perspective, it is really hard to help you tweak your itinerary without knowing more about what you like. Obviously you like beautiful scenery, but if you also dearly love shopping, then Milan might be a great stop for you, more so than Florence if you are not really thrilled to spend time in museums. Knowing more about why you picked the Italian destinations you've picked might result in tips and tweaks that fit in best with your likes and dislikes.

kerouac Jan 6th, 2015 10:10 AM

I really like Switzerland and advise that you think a bit more about spending time there, even though -- yes -- it is an expensive place. Cities like Lucerne and Lausanne are lovely.

I don't think that you need more than one full day in Florence (which of course should include an overnight stay).

Too much time in Interlaken.

TDudette Jan 6th, 2015 10:44 AM

TinaNY, as you can see, you will get many opinions here! Unless it's unanimous, stick with what you want.

Kathie Jan 6th, 2015 12:05 PM

Sorry, I missed your other days in Venice. I do think you need fewer destinations. Which one(s) to cut depend on your priorities. For instance, I agree with those who think the weather is Switzerland will not be great, so I'd probably cut that first, I'd then either cut or add days to anyplace where you will only have one full day. You really can't count on time to explore a place on a day when you are traveling, so forget the idea that your transit day from Interlake to Paris will be a "Paris" day.

TinaNY Jan 7th, 2015 05:15 AM

Tom Mn ,Thank You for taking time to look at my itenrary while planning yours. Planning is fun! But finding time is hard.
Panecott and others , For a first timer in Europe its hard to resist the temptation to see a little bit of everything.
I will return ofcourse at some point and may be spend a few months.

TDudette , I will be on a budget , Planning to look up a few booking sites on Suggestions for hotels. Any thoughts ?

Ny Traveller - I am travelling Late March , spilling over to April , Should I still be afraid of RAin ?

Sandralist , I tagged both Italy and France , looks like something went wrong and may be its me.
Agreed I could possibly write in a little more about my likes when I expand the agenda a little bit. But then I am not looking forward to Wintersports so I guess Interlaken is out.

TDudette Jan 7th, 2015 05:21 AM

For finding hotels on your own, I suggest Trip Advisor and Venere. The hotels can be sorted by price. Narrow it down to a few and come back here and folks will say if they've stayed at your choices.

Also search under "Search the Forums" (above) for "Hotels in ..." and you will get ideas as well.

sandralist Jan 7th, 2015 06:32 AM


If you go over to TripAdvisor to look at reviews and hotels (and I suggest checking too) then you might also want to look at the forum message boards for Switzerland and see if any of the thread are discussing spring weather. If not, you can register and ask about it. For most of your trip in Italy, rain is not going to matter much because there is so much to see and do that doesn't critically depend on clear vistas. But if you visit some scenic parts of Switzerland in rain or fog, you can end up seeing little more than you would on a rainy day in upstate New York.

Switzlerand is not a cheap destination, so before you invest in going, see if you can get some general idea of what to expect weather wise. Nobody can predict precisely what it would be for the days you would be there, but they can give you odds. (I can't -- but I would try to find out before I took a trip like you're planning in late March/April).

or2nh4me2 Jan 7th, 2015 07:53 AM

Chiming in to say that April is a great time to be in Italy-crowds are a bit smaller, so sightseeing is more enjoyable. :)

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