Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

3 Weeks in Europe - Itinerary Help Please.

3 Weeks in Europe - Itinerary Help Please.

Mar 20th, 2014, 07:19 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 3
3 Weeks in Europe - Itinerary Help Please.


I will be travelling to Europe with my parents and my sister in early July this year (from Vancouver, Canada). We travel a lot, but surprisingly, this is my dad and sister's first trip to Europe. My mom and I have already been to Spain, Portugal, and Morocco. So many places to see, not enough time! In total, we have about 3 weeks (only a few days flexibility). We can leave as early as June 27th. In this time, we want to get to as many major destinations as we can, so I have been looking at time-saving options such as night trains etc. I'm 18 and I'm the youngest in my family, and none of us are into art. My parents love picturesque settings, scenery, and sightseeing. My sister likes warm weather, beaches, and fashion (she hates museums but I don't mind "non-art" museums).

My sister really wants to go to Santorini and Mykonos and my parents like cruises so we thought that we could do a 7-night mediterranean Europe cruise from Venice to Mykonos and Santorini and back to Venice. This is the cruise we're looking at: http://cruise.expedia.ca/Cruise/en-C...ry?item=533806 . It leaves on July 5th and returns on the 12th. I think we have to plan the rest of our trip according to the dates of the cruise. This leaves us with two weeks for the rest of the trip.

I think we are going to skip Southern Italy, Greece, Eastern Europe, and Northern Europe on this trip. Leave them for future trips

We are interested in London, Paris, Switzerland (Zurich + some other town(s) in the Alps), Venice, Germany (Munich + castles + the Romantic Road), and Southern France (Nice, Monaco, Eze). We are also open to suggestions - have heard that Amsterdam and Barcelona are nice. We are okay with a very tight schedule to fit as much as we can reasonably. We understand that a lot of time will go into transit.

Some other things we're interested in:
-Bernina Express and Chocolate Train in Switzerland
-Neuschwanstein Castle
-Driving on the Autobahn (maybe rent a low-end BMW)
-Train rides

I would really appreciate any itinerary suggestions or any other suggestions.

Thanks so much!

RohMann is offline  
Mar 20th, 2014, 07:39 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,562
Your title says 3 weeks -- but since one week is the cruise you only have two weeks.

>>We are okay with a very tight schedule to fit as much as we can reasonably. We understand that a lot of time will go into transit.<<

Not just a LOT of time will be spent in transit . . . MOST of your time will be just moving from one place to the next. One or maybe 2 night trains . . . OK, but there really aren't that many places on your wish list where a night train makes sense. Just because you can book trains over night doesn't mean you get much sleep since except for a few routes -- you need to change trains in the middle of the night. How will you parents feel after 4 or 5 sleepless nights in a row?

Except where you can use a night train . . count on losing between 1/2 a day and an entire day every time you move. And more if you are driving.

So -- do you want to tick boxes off a list? Or do you really want to see some things????
janisj is online now  
Mar 20th, 2014, 07:41 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 45,861
You simply can't do this in the time allotted. You have given no consideration to the time allotted to traveling between places, plus some places you've listed have little or no appeal, like Zürich. You are planning an extraordinarily expensive trip, given all the destinations, and giving yourselves zero time to actually BE anywhere.
StCirq is offline  
Mar 21st, 2014, 01:04 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 2,343
Be wary of advice that claims you will spend "MOST of your time moving from one place to the next" and that you will be "giving yourselves zero time to actually BE anywhere". Really? More than 11 (Most) or all 21 (zero time) of your days will be entirely filled with transit? Are you aware that you apparently have no concept of time of time and distance (even though you stated that you are aware of it), and that your personal finances are at issue?

Positions based on absolute arguments are both ill-informed and driven by agenda.

You have provided what I see as a wish list bucket, not a list of places you must visit during your 21+ days available. You don't even have flights planned yet, for goodness sake. Your "mistake" here was stating that you "want to get to as many destinations was we can". That is like waving a red cape in front of some people. You have revealed yourself as an inexperienced traveler in need of being corrected.

Everyone wants to get to as many destinations as they can, in a sense. It is the "as they can" that defines ones travel style. For some it is 3 weeks in an agriturismo in Tuscany, for others it is a minimum of one week in a region staying in one place and taking local day trips or a minimum of 3 days in any one accommodation and short transit hops between locations. Woe are those who actually indicate they are comfortable moving from place to place every couple of days - you do not make the grade. I don't think all of the places you listed as being of interest can be visited unless you want to move every day but I believe that you know that (gasp!)

Based on your outline, if you leave June 27 and return on July 20 - which I presume is your maximum window to which you alluded, you will have 22 nights available. If you take the cruise, you will have 7 nights before it and 8 nights after it in which to visit other places - a total of 15 nights. If you want to spend at least 3 nights (perhaps one 2 night stay) in each place, excluding overnight trains, then you need to pick 5 places to stay.

If you started in London you could consider something like this - nights and (time to reach the location from previous location);

London 3
Paris 3 (2:30 hour train)
Train to Venice 1 (13:30 hours - sleeper train)
Cruise 7
Venice 2 (post cruise)
Munich 3 (6:45 train)
Switzerland 3 (5 hours to Chur)

This could be accomplished by flying into London and out of Zurich, or Milan, for example. It can get tricky trying to work around your Bernina Express wish if you are finishing the trip in Switzerland because of the need to get to an airport for departure.

If you want to include the south of France, or some other place on your list of interests, something has to fall off this list or you will need to move more frequently. If you drop London, Paris, or Switzerland, for example, the itinerary can change dramatically. Throwing in a one way flight instead of a long train trip can be economical and also change the possibilities dramatically.

Hopefully this helps you start putting a box around things and working with your family to establish your "must visits" and desired travelling pace so that you can refine things and come back for some more specific advice.
Aramis is offline  
Mar 21st, 2014, 07:13 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,563

Wondering what that agenda may be considering none of those with the opinions Aramis decries are receiving recompense for their advice on this board (I don't think the free Fodor's guidebook janisj received for being a commenter of the year in '12 counts for much on an hourly basis).

Overnight train rides may suck - you need to check the bahn.de website (for some reason the Germans have figured out how to incorporate a whole-Europe train schedule and no other country has picked up on it) and figure out what is available, what makes sense and which routes won't require transfers. Short flights may be less expensive than sleeper trains. The Man in Seat 61 website will also show what the overnight trains look like from the interior.

And if you and the progenitors don't pack light, this trip will really suck because a lot of moving around means a lot of lugging luggage.
BigRuss is offline  
Mar 21st, 2014, 07:24 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,562
Aramis: Ignoring the snark/snottiness . . . you actually agree w/ me . . . GASP!

You advise that five destinations are possible . . . and the OP lists six countries (not cities - countries) . . .

And where did anyone advise staying a week in each place or 3 weeks in an agriturismo? So w/o the personal attacks -- you advise hitting 5 places. That is what StCirq and I were getting at -- but we didn't tell the OP which places they should be -- that is up to the family. So . . . what is your 'agenda'?
janisj is online now  
Mar 21st, 2014, 12:21 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 3
Thanks for the quick replies everyone. Just to clarify, the destinations that I said that I was interested in are not places we must see. I just listed them so that you guys could give me some recommendations. I also understand that we have to limit the number of cities/moves and maximize our time in each place.

Okay, after some talking with my family, all of us agree that we want to visit London for sure. We are still flexible with the rest of the destinations though.

Here is an itinerary - I added the French Riviera to the itinerary Aramis suggested. Could it work or am I pushing it too much?

[Departs June 26 arrives London next day]
[Vancouver to London]
3 - London
[2.5 hr train]
3 - Paris (3rd night is on train)
[night train]
2 - French Riviera
[trains or flight to Venice]
7 - Cruise
2 - Venice
[Bernina Express]
3 - Switzerland
[train to Munich]
3 - Munich
[Munich to Vancouver]
[Departs July 20 arrives Vancouver same day]

I think I might have to convince my family to visit fewer places.

I would really appreciate some suggestions for the places we should go to. What are the best places to see in Europe? Thanks.
RohMann is offline  
Mar 21st, 2014, 01:41 PM
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 1,315
Two nights on the French Riveria is really not worth it. Skip it and add your time elsewhere. Monaco is a sh1thole in any case
sofarsogood is online now  
Mar 21st, 2014, 04:43 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 2,343
It's hard to respond to you janis when you say I agreed with you when you didn't post anything except criticism about the OP spending "MOST" of the time traveling, which I expressly refuted, and about the trouble with night trains, which I clearly didn't address either.

My comments about 3 weeks in an agriturismo or a week in each place were pretty clearly examples of what some people think is getting to as many destinations as they can; it means different things to different people.

Finally you missed the fact that I surmised (correctly once you read his most recent post) that the OP wasn't listing places he wanted to fit into three weeks but was listing possibilities of places the family wanted to go.

That is what having an agenda does - it makes one miss the clear and obvious information available.
Aramis is offline  
Mar 21st, 2014, 05:06 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,562
You and dulcie must be very happy together
janisj is online now  
Mar 21st, 2014, 05:10 PM
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 1,657
In Switzerland, are you hoping for trip up into the mountains (the 'better-known' ones can be quite expensive.)
I think for your limited time there, Lucerne would be quite nice. Just one hour by train from Zurich, it sits on the humongous lake-Vierwaldstaettersee-offering many daily cruises to quaint towns on the shores-is ringed by mountains, and a spectacular daytrip to Pilatus (mountain) is lesser priced than the Jungfrau trip. Plenty of shopping, museums, cafes and decent nightlife too. Worth looking into!
mokka4 is offline  
Mar 21st, 2014, 06:42 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,055
I agree that two nights on the French Riviera won't really be worth the time and money to get there. I'd allocate those nights to Pros and London (1 more each). You also need to think carefully about your three nights in Switzerland. It's a big, mountainous country, so which town to city were you considering? As mentioned above, Lucerne might be a good choice. Or, this might also be a good place to stay in a smaller town (like Wengen or Murren) to do some hiking, since much of he rest of your trip will be in larger cities. Have a great trip!
msteacher is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2014, 08:14 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 2,343
What a sad place for your half of the discourse to end up janis. You characterize views that oppose your own as personal attacks while responding in this manne. If you have a counterpoint, state it. If not, language like "snarkiness" and "snottiness" and making immature allusions isn't worth anyone's time.
Aramis is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2014, 09:13 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 76,521
plus some places you've listed have little or no appeal, like Zürich.>

Well in your opinion they don't but there are plenty of folks including me who have enjoyed Zurich a whole lot - you obviously have not looked around much there to say such drivel.

That said if you have never been to the Swiss Alps or Lucerne then I'd go there first - Zurich is a very pleasant city with lots to see or do but you go to Switzerland to see the Alps not modern cities no matter how pleasant they are.

But if you want to go to Zurich ignore remarks of folks dissing it after obviously never having been there or really looking around it.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2014, 09:22 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,522
Hey...some of you guys/gals sound like you are commenting in the lounge..help for the poster not redirecting each others ways to respond!! Give the poster a break and HELP!!! IMO a cruise in the middle of the trip (if I understandcorrectly)will take a huge bite out of places to visit but will be agood way to dip into other places..
amer_can is offline  
Mar 25th, 2014, 08:25 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 3
Hi guys, if I skip the French Riviera, will I be missing out? Southern France seems amazing in pictures and videos. I was thinking of places such as Nice, Eze, Antibes, Saint-Tropez or even Luberon (the lavender fields). Is it worth it to completely miss out on southern France for 2 extra days in Paris and London? My sister wanted to go to the Riviera.
RohMann is offline  
Mar 25th, 2014, 12:48 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 3,111
The problem is you cannot do southern France justice in just two days. Oh, and you don't have to have a sleeper train from Paris to the south of France. You can get to Avignon in 3 hours. Regardless, you're wise to reserve Provence/Cote d'Azur for another trip.

You should also check into some of the low-fare intra-Europe airlines. For example: Easy Jet and Transavia fly Paris ORLY - Venice VCE (and back) in about 1 1/2 hours. ORLY is right in Paris, very convenient. Some of these flights are as low as $100 for one way.

My favorite trip was where we spent 9 days in Italy and a week in Paris. First we found a really good flight Venice to Paris and then we built around that. Flew into Rome, 9 days in Italy, fly Venice - Paris, a week in Paris then depart from Paris. You could do

fly Paris-Venice for your cruise
then Venice and points north

HOWEVER...I would feel remiss if I didn't point out that you're only spending TWO NIGHTS in all of Italy! What would I do? I would come back from the cruise, then

3 nights in Venice, then 1 of these options:

1) Take the train north to the Italian Lakes District (Lake Maggiore), surrounded by the Swiss and Italian Alps. You may have heard of it...this is where George Clooney has a home. From there you would fly home from Milan, very easy.

2) OR----train south to Florence and Rome. Or...Google the Amalfi Coast! You could fly home from Rome.

Forgive me if I seem pushy. I don't mean you HAVE to consider these. But I am one whose first trip to Europe was a whirlwind through France. After many more trips, I know now what a mistake that was. And...I can't imagine only spending 2 nights in Italy!

Another little bit of research: look up summer festivals in these places. Many Italian towns offer movies-under-the-stars in their piazzas. There are music festivals, concerts,
food /wine festivals, art, and so on. If you see something particularly interesting, you may want to try and arrange your trip around it. Just Google: Calendar of events in ________________ (Town).
JeanneB is offline  
Mar 25th, 2014, 06:25 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,055
Well, yes, the south of France is lovely, but there's no way you could visit all the places you named in two days. So save it for another trip when you can spend a week there. Four nights each in London and Paris will go by very quickly, but will give you at least enough time to scratch the surface. Have fun!
msteacher is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:07 PM.