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6-Week Europe Itinerary - Thoughts and Suggestions?

6-Week Europe Itinerary - Thoughts and Suggestions?

Old Jan 29th, 2015, 07:05 AM
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6-Week Europe Itinerary - Thoughts and Suggestions?

Hi all,

I'll be backpacking through Europe for three months. The first month and a bit has been locked in, so just trying schedule the remaining 6 weeks (I'll be finishing up with a week in Scotland and a week in London). While I'm enamoured at the idea of 'winging it', for peace of mind I'm going with a 'casually organised' itinerary (rooms and train travel booked in advance, taking advantage of free cancellations where possible).

Itinerary thus far:
5th - 9th April: Rome (5n)
10th April: Travel to Florence
11th - 13th April: Florence (day trip to Pisa?) (3d/4n)
14th April: Travel to Venice (w/ stop in Verona)
15th - 16th April: Venice (2d/3n)
17th April: Travel to Munich
18th - 20th April: Munich (day trip to Neuschewanstein Castle?) (3d/4n)
21st April: Travel to Vienna
22nd - 24th April: Vienna (3d/4n)
25th April: Travel to Budapest
26th - 28th April: Budapest (3d/4n)
29th April: Travel to Prague
30th April to 2nd May: Prague (3d/4n)
3rd May: Travel to Berlin
4th-9th May: Berlin (6d/7n)
10th May: Travel to Hamburg
11th - 12th May: Hamburg (2d/3n)
13th May: Travel to Amsterdam
14th - 16th May: Amsterdam (3d/4n)
17th May: Travel to London

Does this seem reasonable? I've tried to schedule in one full day dedicated to 'travel time'. Seeing it typed out just now actually looks quite rushed, but I've already cut out so much (Croatia, Slovenia, Poland), not sure if I can bear to cut out any more, haha.

My interests are: history, architecture (I love a good castle or cathedral!) food and nature and will be travelling solo. I'll be travelling via train wherever possible.

Thoughts? Open to any suggestions/recommendations or tweaking if there are better options available out there

Thanks in advance!
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Old Jan 29th, 2015, 07:29 AM
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It looks doable, I always say cut Munich.

I'd add some time to Hambourg and look at a day trip to Lubeck or Luneburg, possibly a bit far on a bike, though you might like a day on a bike hire and ride along the Elbe.
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Old Jan 29th, 2015, 08:41 AM
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Yes as many rough itineraries go here yours is very doable - a relaxed pace for me anyway - you are taking trains I would assume? If so and taking that many the Eurail Global Eurail Flexipass for 10 days of travel - unlimited travel spread over a two-month period - chose the days as you go along - this would seem to be the best deal if doing all or most of those trips by train, which to me is the best option since they are not really that far apart.

Anyway for a lot on European trains and passes check out these IMO superb sites: www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com - if into the discounted ticket route here is the site for that but you have so so many that per day a railpass may be cheaper than a string of discounted tickets which may not even be avbailable on all segments.

Florence to Pisa buy locally - dirt-cheap local trains - use the pass days for longer trips between bases - once in a base you will not need to use a pass of course. A flexipass is much cheaper than a consecutive-day pass.
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Old Jan 30th, 2015, 02:50 AM
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Thanks for the input!

With regards to the rail passes, I had considered getting the 2 month/10 days pass, which came up to 1063AUD+ reservation fees vs est. 790AUD if I lock in dates and buy point to point. I've also read that using a rail pass for Italy isn't really worth it, and that booking these in advance (Rome-Florence, 19Euro/Florence-Venice, 19Euro), is better, therefore making a 10 day pass for the remaining 8 days of travel kind of wasteful. Am I wrong in this assumption?

Bilboburglar, any particular reasons for cutting out Munich?
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Old Jan 30th, 2015, 03:55 AM
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The main advantage of the railpass is that you don't have to pre-schedule your journeys - there is more flexibility to change your mind or not to plan in the first place. (Discounted pre-purchased tickets are refundable in advance of the date of travel for a fee, at least that's how it works with German Railways. But then you'll still need a ticket and the price will be much higher at that point.)

Your rail pass price of 1063AUD is per person, correct? So that's 2126AUD altogether...

I don't know where you priced the P2P tickets. The fact is that you cannot yet price out exactly what you will pay since since the best prices are not yet available for your dates. At German Railways (DB) you can look at dates 91 days in advance, as I just did for your journeys using a date of May 1. I looked just at trips within, into, and out of Germany. Below are the lowest prices in Euros that I found for 5 of your routes. Each price is total for 2 adults. If you aggressively purchase tickets as soon as they pop up for sale you can probably do much better than $790AUD each!

Prague - Berlin: 58
Venice - Munich: 78
Munich - Vienna: 58
Berlin - Hamburg: 49
Hamburg - Amsterdam: 58
TOTAL: €301 = $434AUD
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Old Jan 30th, 2015, 04:27 AM
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As far as cutting Munich goes, that's clearly a personal decision. I don't think much of Neuschwanstein as a day trip. It gets a lot of press and millions of tourists, but really... from Munich it will take you 5 hours round trip just for the trains and buses. The brief (30-minutes) guided, overcrowded and expensive tour in English comes with a heavy German accent that for me was not easy to understand, and it actually doesn't reveal all that much since there's not much there and not much every really happened there. King Ludwig II lived there for... 6 months. It is not even a castle in the way we think of castles. It has no defensive structures at all... yet it didn't need them because it was never under threat of attack by invading hordes from France or elsewhere, never saw an arrow or a cannonball. It was built long, long after all that history in the late in the 19th century as a private home, not a castle. It's really just a very elaborate house, a palatial residence.

If you are interested in palaces, you ought to check out the two in Munich.

Residenz: http://www.residenz-muenchen.de/engl...sidenc/bau.htm

Nymphenburg: http://www.schloss-nymphenburg.de/en...lace/index.htm

These places are easy to reach and have a lot more history in them. Ludwig II was born at Nymphenburg Palace, by the way. If you are a Ludwig follower, the Queen's bedroom where he was born and a collection of his horse-drawn carriages and sleighs might interest you.
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Old Jan 30th, 2015, 11:18 AM
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You will give reviews all over the board about Neuschwansgtein - from Fussganger's (who has the exact same take as Russ, a former German expert who has disappeared but was just as extremely knowledgeable as fussganger (not saying he's the same - just uncannily similar about Newuschwanstein) - so experts often disdain it as Kitsch I think - not really a castle, schlock, etc.

Yet that is why the bulk of the people you talk to are enthralled with the place - it is nsot your grandfather's castle with yes no real history behind it except that Mad King Ludwig nearly bankrupted the Bavarian State Treasury with his castle-building projects - the last and most outlandish of which was Neuschwanstein so yes he barely lived it the unfinished castle for a few days before someone drowned him in the Starnberger See (I think) and put an end to his drain of the public funds on these 'mad' projects.

Yet to me and many it is the madness of the place that attracts me - to say there is little inside is quite the contrary to me - a diferent if bizarre twist at every turn - no it ain't you grandfather's castle and is unique in the world - one reason Disney used it as a model for its Sleeping Beauty Castle I believe.

And it is in a wonderful area - the foothills of the Bavarian Alps - take some time to hike up behind the castle to the famous Marienbrucke (bridge) from where there is an awesome view of the castle below, nestled in and protruding above trees and forests - Ludwig himself used to walk up here and sit for hours pondering his castle being built (sources say) -

As for the inside here are some images of to me a simly surrealistic awesome experience:

https://www.google.com/search?q=Neus...=1600&bih=1075

And Fuessen is a really neat town that few of the hoards tramping out of town a few miles to Ludwig's two castles (the other castle Ludwig I guess actually grew up in and he renovated it to though in a more subdued exuberance!) - stay overnight in Fuessen or Schwangau - lovingly set on a lake - Fussen has a nice walkway along the roaring river gap leading to Austria - but few folks ever see Fuessen at all, save for the train station area.

Well that's my take and I can appreciate others who are repelled at it for being a sham castle - I and Disney love sham castles!
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Old Jan 30th, 2015, 08:35 PM
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Thank you both for your input - definitely given me more to think about!

Thanks, Fussgaenger for those prices - admittedly, that estimate I had figured was from a few weeks ago so I can't quite recall where I got them, but the prices you mentioned (I'm travelling solo) are much more appealing.
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Old Jan 31st, 2015, 06:20 AM
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Those are the lowest possible prices if you can get them and that means booking weeks/months in advance and then no changes allowed and a hefty refund penalty - compare to the advantages of a pass - hop any train anytime - if flexibility is worth it - see what the price difference is and if you want flexibility to hop any train or not - many are happy locking in tickets in stone months in advance - others want freedom to take any train anytime.

and those are 2nd class prices I think - the Eurail is first class and that to me makes a major major difference in comfort - especially for folks hauling lots of luggage around.
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Old Jan 31st, 2015, 06:40 AM
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I would also probably cut Munich from the itinerary, but if you go, I think the Residenz is one of the dullest and most boring of palaces I have even seen, and it is enormous. For me it had only 2 bright spots of interest (the Antiquarium and the Treasury) and after that I found it room after room (big room) of reconstructed tedium. I found myself quite sympathatic to "mad" King Ludwig's desire for some entertaining architecture.

For me, the interesting unique places in Munich are the Asam church (St Johann Nepomuk), the Bavarian National Museum, the Lenbachhaus museum of painting (with its Blae Reiter collection) and while not entirely unique, the Glyptothek and its surrounding Nazi-era architectural complex.
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Old Jan 31st, 2015, 06:45 AM
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PS: In lieu of Munich, I might go to Trento and see the palace and cathedral there, but it is a very small town, and it doesn't get you very far on your jouney between Venice and Vienna. For reasons of logistics, I'll take back my comment that I would cut Munich from the itinerary. It is the logical place to stop, it does have sufficient interest, and it is well organized for doing a laundry or picking up a few maps if you need them and not very expensive. I think if you do some reading beforehand about how to make the most of your time there, you'll find it a pleasant and informative stop.
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Old Jan 31st, 2015, 08:03 AM
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PalenQ is correct about the savings fare tickets. It's just like I said... you book far in advance, as soon as tickets go on sale, if you want low prices like the ones that I found. The prices go up incrementally as tickets are sold after that. So if you wait, you'll pay more (but even if you foolishly waited until a week or two before your travel dates, you probably won't be paying full fare for all of them - at least some small discount would apply.)

So yes, if you want the flexibility to change your plans or not to plan at all, then no, you don't buy those saver fare tickets.

But that doesn't leave the rail pass as your only option either. In fact, even if you just walked up to the counter and paid cash for every trip, you would pay less than you would for a railpass. Even the full-price fares for two adults look pretty good by comparison.

Munich-Vienna: 186
Prague-Berlin: 135
Berlin-Hamburg: 128
Hamburg-Amsterdam: 148

Now of course, you still have trips to Budapest and to Prague and around Italy to pay for. But I think you can see where this is going... the total cost for two adults at FULL FARE at this point is only €597, and you have TOTAL FLEXIBILITY. With the Eurailpass option at around €1370 for two, you still have €800 to get your other 4 full-fare tickets!

So I think the only possible advantage of a railpass vs. any other option would be if you really wanted to sit only in first class all the time AND if you didn't want to pre-purchase any trips at all (the only way 2 adults could spend more than €1370 as far as I can tell.) If you pre-purchase first class tickets for all your trips, you will still spend far less than that.

Is first class so important? Something like 90% of Europeans seem to think 2nd class seats are just fine. Buying a 1st-class rail pass takes away your flexibility to choose second class (naturally you can sit in 2nd but you're paying for 1st.) But if you use individual tickets, there may be certain trips, maybe the long ones, where you could try the first-class option, whether you pre-purchase or you pay full fare at the counter, and you can still save a sack of cash overall.
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Old Jan 31st, 2015, 09:27 AM
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Liata;

Name your favourite place in the world.

There are people who hate it.

If you have done enough research, and it looks like you are a researcher type, and have a general idea of what Munich has to see, and you want to see it, then you should go. It clearly holds no awful surprise that is only known to a small minority of the millions who visit it and enjoy it.

This is just the wonderful world of subjectivity at work.
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Old Jan 31st, 2015, 10:12 AM
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Is first class so important? Something like 90% of Europeans seem to think 2nd class seats are just fine>

Yes bugt they are not carrying around luggage and stuff for six weeks - big big difference IME - plus if just jumpingon trains you'll have much better chances of finding empty seats in first class - I almost always have whereas in Germany 2nd class is not unusually chck full.

To me on the trip of a lifetime go first class - especially if first-time users - like Fuss says discounted tickets even are sold in first class - so check that out. Seats are much bigger - fewer seats in same-size rail car - there are solo seats with both an aisle and window seat - key to me and these can face each other with tables - great for privacy and ease of getting out to the loo, etc.
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Old Jan 31st, 2015, 10:26 AM
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Munich-Vienna: 186
Prague-Berlin: 135
Berlin-Hamburg: 128
Hamburg-Amsterdam: 148

for two adults 597

the cheapest railpass would be a Eurail Select Pass valid in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and Austria at 500 ($419) euros a piece in first class - if you can get those fares at what fussganer lists then for that portion of the trip yes they are better but if you wanted first class, which I highly recommend either thru discounted first-class tickets or regular first-class tickets or a pass whatever is cheaper do the maths. Cheapest is not always the best, especially for the trip of a lifetime - thanks to fussganger for taking all that time to lay out the regular and discounted fares.

But also look out for Eurail Select Saverpass specials as the spring comes - always seem to have them - an free extra day, etc. No reason to buy a pass until you've done all the research and are ready to leave.
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Old Jan 31st, 2015, 10:31 AM
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One factor is that the euro has depreciated so much - at $1.40 to $ the price difference would obviously be a lot difference but at $1.12 to the $ this makes things bought in Europe much cheaper - something that skipped my mind so yes the railpass would cost about 20% more than it would have a few months ago. To lock in that price buy your tickets ASAP IMO.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2015, 06:17 AM
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Wow - been away at a friends wedding the last few days, and come back to a wealth of information! Thank you all for your thoughts!

A special thank you to PalenQ and Fussgaenger for taking the time to research information - I really, truly appreciate all the help you've provided.

I didn't even *think* about the Select Saver pass, so I'll definitely look into that, too, as well as possibly pre-booking some p2p if I come across any cheap fares. You've all given me plenty to think about... I'll have to work out some figures and costings and hopefully settle on something within the next week or so. I think I'm willing to sacrifice a bit of flexibility if the savings are worthwhile.

And if I can score a cheap first class fare, even better - I'm staying in hostels for the vast majority of my trip (i.e all of it, haha) so a tiny taste of luxury for a few extra euro wont go astray - it may be my only chance to be able to say i've travelled first class
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Old Feb 2nd, 2015, 09:24 AM
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There are minimal differences between 1st and 2nd class on those high speed trains. Some sample German train photos:

2nd: http://www.bahnbilder.de/1024/zu-fru...aum-562390.jpg
1st
2nd, w/ table: http://www.bahnbilder.de/1200/eine-4...sse-720704.jpg
1st: more room. (Maybe) leather: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...ste_Klasse.jpg

2nd class high speed train cars are very comfortable. And they are just as fast as the 1st class cars.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2015, 10:11 AM
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Liata: Be careful to verify all the advice you get here. We are not pros, and we do make errors.

"the cheapest railpass would be a Eurail Select Pass valid in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and Austria at 500 ($419) euros a piece in first class"

NOTE: €500 is not $419. It's €564, so $1128 total for two.
NOTE: Austria twice? Maybe the poster meant to include the Netherlands (Benelux?)
AND: How many days is this pass for? I'm guessing a 5-day pass for 2, which is actually €704 total (about $800.)

That would cover 4 trips: Munich - Vienna, Prague - Berlin, Berlin - Hamburg, Hamburg - A'dam.


On a 5th day it should cover part of a trip to Prague as well, but not any travel to or from Budapest through Hungary.

If you decide you want to "splurge" (as much of a small splurge as this might be, anyway) and go first class... in other words, use the same trains and seats you would with the railpass - the pass doesn't look like the best option to me at all. Here are pre-purchase prices I found at DB just now using a fake date of May 2. All prices in Euros for 2 adults.

Munich - Vienna (78)
Prague - Berlin (98)
Berlin - Hamburg (69)
Hamburg - Amster. (98)
TOTAL for two: €343

I did not research the value of that 5th leg - the partial trip through the CZ Republic to Prague from Budapest. But I think it's safe to say this... Pre-purchasing your first-class trips for €343 AND paying for that 5th through CZ is NOT going to get near that €704 railpass price. You aren't travling by the seat of your pants - you know your travel dates - so pre-purchasing seems like no problem to me. Use the extra €300 for a couple of splurge hotels. Or travel second class and save enough for 3 or 4 splurge hotel nights.




The saver selectpass
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Old Feb 2nd, 2015, 10:16 AM
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Heh heh, Talk about errors.

"NOTE: €500 is not $419. It's €564, so $1128 total for two."

That should be $564 - not €564.
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