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emay Jul 6th, 2014 07:01 PM

Beginners attempt at an itinerary
I am in the early stages of planning my first trip to Europe.

I can take roughly 21-25 days including flying in and out.

My desired countries are Italy (primary interest) Greek Islands & some of the Turkey coast.

My partner and I are fast paced young travellers (24 & 25) and like to make the most of our days/nights. We hope to just scratch the surface of the major cities, as well as covering as much ground as we can.

We appreciate any advice, tips and suggestions anyone may have as nothing is set in stone and we just want to see as much diverse and beautiful cities and towns as possible in our short trip!

We did look into Contiki but have read a lot of posts that put us off - we want to eat the true and delicious local food and stay as close to the action as possible! But please share if you have contradictory stories :)

Would love to know any additional cities/towns and any to miss.

Am I making a mistake fitting Turkey I to this trip?

Fly in from Australia to Venice (2 nights)
Venice to Bologna
Bologna to Florence (2 nights)
Day trip to Cinque Terre
Florence to Rome (2 nights)
Day trip to Vatican City
Rome to Naples (2 nights)
Day trip to Pompeii
Naples to Amalfi Coast/Positano
AC to Sorrento to Athens
Athens to Mykonos (2 nights)
Mykonos to Los
Los to Santorini to Crete
Crete to Rhodes
Rhodes to Marmaris
Marmaris to Bodrum
Bodrum to Kusadasi
Kusadasi to Cannakale (2 nights)
Day trips to Troy and Gallipoli
Cannakale to Istanbul (2 nights)
Fly from Istanbul to Australia

Thanks in advance!!

IMDonehere Jul 6th, 2014 07:25 PM

Fast paced it will be as you will see Europe from either 25,000 feet or from a speeding train. You will not be able to scratch the surface unless you scratch yourself sometime during the journey.

You might also consider the expenses associated with constant motion.

Vivi004 Jul 6th, 2014 07:36 PM

I don't understand your itinerary at all. It is easier for us to evaluate your itinerary if you list each city individually. Remember you lose half a day of travel for every change of city. I didn't want to believe it either, but it is true!

You need more than 1 full day in Rome, you don't really need a "day trip" to Vatican City, it's about 2 miles from city center, while you can spend the better part of the day there, I wouldn't consider it a day trip.

I think it is a mistake to include Turkey, because you do not have enough time to see all of the places you listed.

Maybe you can reorganize your itinerary so it is easier to see which numbered day corresponds to each city? For example:
1-Travel Day Australia to Venice
2- Venice
3- Travel Day Venice to Bologna
4- Travel Day Bologna to Florence
5- Florence
6- Travel Day to Rome
7- Rome
8- Rome - Vatican
9- Travel Day Rome to Naples
(You may want to consider basing yourself in Sorrento and visit Naples, Pompeii and Amalfi Coast from there)
10- Naples
11- Naples - Pompeii
12- Naples - Amalfi Coast- Positano
13- Naples - Amalfi Coast- Positano
14- Travel Day (Sorrento) to Athens
15- Travel Day Athens to Mykonos
16- Mykonos
17- Travel Day Mykonos to Los
18- Travel Day Los to Santorini to Crete
19- Travel Day Crete to Rhodes
20- Travel Day Rhodes to Marmaris
21- Travel Day Marmaris to Bodrum
22- Travel Day Bodrum to Kusadasi
23- Travel Day Kusadasi to Cannakale
24- Cannakale
25- you are out of days to continue your itinerary.....I hope with your itinerary laid out like this it is easier for you to see that you are planning too much in too little time. Everything takes twice as long as you think it will. When will you eat, what if you get lost? You are not giving yourself enough time and you'll be on a train most of your vacation. I truly hope I helped even a little. I only have a few international trips under my belt, but this is the kind of advice I was given and I am so glad that I took it, because it made my first trip to Europe an amazing one! Good Luck!!

artsnletters Jul 6th, 2014 07:44 PM

Vivi is being way too kind to you regarding your Greek island plans. You cannot see Ios (I assume that's what you mean by Los), Santorini, Crete and Rhodes in 4 days. Travel time will mean you see nothing of those islands at all, as the majority of the ferries travel midday, meaning there isn't time for significant sightseeing either on your island of departure or your island of departure. Plus not all ferries run on all days. Any island will take at least 2 nights to have a single day there, and any island worth visiting is generally worth at least 3 nights/2 days. Rhodes has much more to see than Mykonos, Ios, or Santorini, really worth 4 days, and Crete takes a week to even scratch the surface.

I don't see how Turkey can possibly fit in unless perhaps you give Greece a pass altogether.

artsnletters Jul 6th, 2014 07:44 PM

Argh - island of departure or island of ARRIVAL.

janisj Jul 6th, 2014 08:04 PM

Ain't going to happen in 21-25 days. Just won't.

No matter how young you are or how fast you want to travel -- unless you charter a private helicopter for the Greek bits. You simply haven't accounted for travel times,

emay Jul 6th, 2014 08:25 PM

Already helping so much.
Perhaps it would be best to give turkey a miss this time around as I really want to do Italy as much justice as I can.
At this stage I have only chosen the cities I have from reading my lonely planet guide book! And based my travel times off google!

Although it is heartbreaking to hear half a day goes on travel no matter where I go ViVi </3

Great to know Rhodes is a place to invest some time - are there any others you might give a miss or add?

Leaving Turkey out means I can dedicate at least 2 nights to each destination.

Is Sorrento a good place to spend nights? I had thought Naples would be that 'base' but must need to do some deeper research!

emay Jul 6th, 2014 08:37 PM

1 - Travel day AUS to Venice
2 - Venice
3 - Travel day - Venice to Bologna
4 - Bologna
5 - Travel day - Bologna to Cinque Terre (should I spend a night here?)
6 - Travel day - Bologna/CT to Florence
7 - Florence (is this the best choice I can make in Tuscany?)
8 - Florence
9 - Travel day - Florence to Rome
10 - Rome
11 - Rome
12 - Travel day - Vatican City to Naples
13 - Naples - Pompeii
14 - Naples - AC (not worth an overnight?)
15 - Travel Day - Sorrento to Athens
16 - Athens
17 - Should I consider a group tour for 8 nights or something to do the islands? Or what would you recommend as my final days itinerary of Greek Islands? I can fly out of Athens.


THR Jul 6th, 2014 09:22 PM

Honestly, less is more. That trip sounds like hell. You need to see more of few places. I would halve the number of locations. Two days for each of Rome and Florence is not nearly enough. The Cinque Terre is beautiful over night (and for multiple nights, at that).

You need to remember that on travel days - you're packing, preparing to travel, travelling, getting to accommodation etc. You really want to be doing more relaxing, eating, sightseeing - not finding the train/bus station etc.

WWK Jul 7th, 2014 04:02 AM

I hate to pile on, but just say "NO"! to two day stays. They are incredibly annoying and you lose half a day every time you pack up and move to another destination.

More later, but Sorrento would not be my choice for the Amalfi Coast. First, it's not even on the Amalfi Coast. Second, it's full of tour buses and not nearly as beautiful or interesting as Positano or Amalfi.

Also just a heads-up that flights from Naples-Athens are on a small plane and seasonal, if they are even on the schedule. Most flights from Italy to Athens mean backtracking to Rome, or futher afield, Milan.

sandralist Jul 7th, 2014 05:26 AM

Maybe it would be easier for people to help you and for you to help yourself if -- instead of naming cities -- you said what you will be accomplishing each day. Something more like this:

1 - AUS to Venice -- sleep upon arrival
2 - Visit Rialto market, take gondola ride, spend 3 or 4 hours walking, lunch and dinner
3 - lunch in Bologna, visit markets in afternoon, see anatomical theater , dinner

For what it is worth, I have NEVER spent half a day switching hotels in Italy. So many people like Viv do and swear there is no other way to do it, that it is now obvious to me that for a great many people it really does take them half a day to switch hotels and they feel they have LOST a half day of their trip.

But it takes me about 15 minutes to check out of a hotel, and I organize my transit between cities to make it efficient. I don't consider traveling in Italy (or anywhere) LOST time. I am having the experience of traveling in a foreign country even when I am not doing a guidebook recommended activity.

I don't wish to mislead you because there are so many people like Viv that you might very well be one of them. However, unless you are walking between Venice and Bologna, nobody needs an entire"travel day" to get there. In fact, many people leave Venice in the late morning on a fast train, put their luggage in the station, go to lunch in Bologna, walk around and hang out until the markets re-open at 4pm, visit them and then take a train out of Bologna to Florence to arrive in Florence in time for dinner.

I am not encouraging you to spend minimal amounts of time in lots of different destinations. That is why I suggested to you that instead of listing destinations, you tell people (and yourself), why you are going there. To do what. If you are going to le Cinque Terre to take a boat ride between the villages then maybe you don't need to spend the night there. But if you are going to experience the magic of village life on the Italian Riviera, then you do.

sandralist Jul 7th, 2014 05:37 AM

>>You need to remember that on travel days - you're packing, preparing to travel, travelling, getting to accommodation etc. You really want to be doing more relaxing, eating, sightseeing - not finding the train/bus station etc.<<

I think the difference between the "you lose half a day" group of travelers and the ones who don't maybe that many of us in the latter group don't unpack our suitcases upon arrival at hotel (so we aren't repacking later) and we take taxis to and from hotels and train stations, so we aren't wasting time lost. I also travel on a budget, so what I spend on taxis ends up coming out of something else which others might be reluctant to give up. I also use the time I spend on trains familiarizing myself with my next destination.

I have relatives who always unpack in hotels and who never take taxis and I have nothing against that style of travel. They would not enjoy their trips if they spent money on taxis and left their clothes in their suitcases instead of putting them in drawers. I just think the "you lose half a day" group needs to realize that this is actually not true for everybody. There is nothing objectively necessary in planning a trip that requires everybody to factor in hours and hours of "lost time" just for moving between destinations, especially if you are talking about destinates like Venice, Bologna, Florence and Rome where transportation connections and infrustructure is so efficient if you are willing to use it.

Sassafrass Jul 7th, 2014 05:43 AM

When are you going?

Three weeks is enough to see Italy quite well, or see a bit of Italy and a couple of
Greek Islands.

Crete is large, needs a week and takes time to get there.

On very short trips, one or two night stays are OK.
On longer trips, spend more time in each place, two nights minimum, three or four for larger cities. Look at what places you could logically visit on the way to another place. Example: you could stop for a day in Bologna on the way from Venice to Florence, so save a check in and out of hotels. The exception would be staying one night in a city before catching a flight.

OTOH, some places are too far for decent day trips, like the CT from Florence. If you plan to hike, spend at least a night or two.

Study your maps and check a few flights to get a feeling for travel times.
The Vatican is in Rome, so is just another major sight there, not a day trip.
You will probably get a flight from Naples to Greece, so would likely spend one night in Naples pre-flight. Generally, you want to stay in the city of departure the night before flights.

Is the AC worth an overnight? Well. People go there from all over the world for the jaw dropping scenery and cliff top towns! Celebrities own villas there, etc. depends on what your personal interests are and when you are going. I would not go to the CT or the AC in cold weather, but be prepared for crowds in good weather.

Sorrento, while on the Bay of Naples, rather than the AC, is beautifully situated and makes a very good base for day tripping easily around the AC, visiting Positano, Pompeii, etc.

By Tuscany, are you looking for hill top cities and wineries or Art? Florence is a city of great art, but if you want rural, go someplace else or plan a good day trip.

janisj Jul 7th, 2014 06:07 AM

>>I think the difference between the "you lose half a day" group of travelers and the ones who don't maybe that many of us in the latter group don't unpack our suitcases upon arrival at hotel<<

OK -- you can do a city transfer in less than half a day if you never unpack. Yes - that's the trick >)

But even if you never unpack -- it still will <u>average</u> about half a day to move from one city to the next. And for complicated transfers (like to an island via ferries etc - count on most of a day.

Sassafrass Jul 7th, 2014 06:31 AM

The time getting to/from hotels, etc. has so many variables. I am in the Sandralist camp, in that I rarely unpack. OTOH, if I know the city and the station is no more than an easy 15 to 20 minute walk from the hotel and weather is nice, I may walk rather than get a taxi. It is a chance to see a bit of the city and be outside.

For someone new to a city, especially a large one, having to look at a map to find the hotel or get to a subway or shuttle, etc. takes more time. If you are not familiar with a large train station, getting there and finding your train takes more time than for someone who does it routinely. I am very familiar with Venice and Florence, but still, grab my bag and walk to a vaporetto stop & wait for vaporetto (15min), trip to station (20-30), catch train (10), travel to Florence (2hrs +\- some), walk to city center (15), check in/to room (15), roughly 3&1/2 hours and that is knowing my way.

If I were catching a flight, I would certainly need more time for security, etc. Many airports are further out and definitely require a taxi trip. Of course, getting to Bologna would take less time, getting to Rome more time. So, I can see why on the average, people unfamiliar with a place allow more rather than less time.

Must also agree with Sandralist that it makes sense to get a taxi and just get there, rather than mess about with busses, etc. when you arrive in a new place. DH and I, when young, spent far too much time trying to save a few bucks when we could have been checked in and enjoying the city. I refuse to do that anymore. The cost is so little compared with the cost of the trip. If I have to cut the trip by a day to have a more enjoyable trip, I will do that.

dwdvagamundo Jul 7th, 2014 06:51 AM

Make your plan around nites, not days. That way you'll see how many actual days you have in a particular place. FWIW, I side with Sandralist: I don't regard changing cities as "days lost." The very act of traveling between cities in Europe is or can be fun. Having said that, however, as we've aged, we've cut back the changes and do our best to eliminate single nites anywhere unless en route.

Now, on your revised itinerary:

I love Bologna, but you have more time there than in Venice and that's wrong. Take another day for Venice and take the Vaporetto to the islands in the Lagoon.

Florence is one of the most important cities in Italy; whether it's best for you depends on your interests: if you like art and architecture, then stay there. You could easily spend a week or more. You mentioned your interest is to "scratch the surface of cities" so to me that means Florence rather than the country. Take a day trip to Siena.

As Sassafras mentioned, the Vatican is geographically part of Rome. To take the train to Naples you'd have to go back to Termini Station.

I'd do either the AC (my preference) or the CT but not both. I think the Amalfi Coast is worth a day or two of your very rushed itinerary. As Sassafras said, Bay of Naples/Amalfi Coast area is one of the, if not the the most, beautiful in the world. Napoli itself has lots of interesting things to do but I'd base in Sorrento as you could take the train to Pompeii, a boat to Capri, a bus down the coast, etc.

If you're still wanting to go to Greece (and it's within your budget), I'd consider a short cruise of some of the Greek Islands using a Greek cruise line. That way you eliminate the inconvenient time schedules of ferries and will be able to sleep between islands.

sandralist Jul 7th, 2014 07:21 AM

>>But even if you never unpack -- it still will average about half a day to move from one city to the next. And for complicated transfers (like to an island via ferries etc - count on most of a day.<<

This is simply not true, and furthermore, one of the most memorable foreign experiences I have ever had is taking a ferry in Greece between Corfu and Delphi. I only have a hazy recollection of what I did and saw in Delphi, but I don't think I will ever forget that ferry ride. It was fantastic!

People who "lose" half a day moving between cities are welcome to tell me what they are doing differently than I am. Here is what I did the last time I checked out of a hotel in Florence and checked into a hotel in Rome the same day:

8.30 am Woke up, got dressed, got coffee and such in the hotel breakfast room

9.15am: Returned to room, took everything out of safe, zipped up bags, checked out, asked hotel to hold my bags for me.

10:00am: Went sightseeing for two hours (in this case, Santa Croce).

12pm: Opted for a light cafe lunch

1.15pm: returned to hotel, retrieved bags, had them call me a taxi to the train station

2pm: boarded train for Rome (I had pre-purchased my tickets), read and relaxed on train with a glass of wine

3.30: Arrive Rome, get taxi to hotel, check-in, take shower

4.45pm: Sightsee and stroll until 7.15pm, when I sat down for a glass of wine

8.30 -- dinner near the hotel

Where did I "lose" half a day moving between cities in Italy?

True there are some train rides that are longer, and there are some longer trips to train stations. But most of the longer trains rides are through interesting parts of Italy, and most of the more complicated trips to the train stations are things like going up the Grand Canal in Venice, or traveling along the Amalfi drive. People who think they are "losing" half a day leaving Positano for another destination have a different definition of travel than I do.

I think another reason people end up "losing: half a day switching hotels is that there mind set is fixed on traveling between cities first thing in the morning. Then, by the time they arrive in the next city, it is lunch -- and sure, it feels like you lost half a day if you don't start sightseeing until 3pm. But if you have spent the morning sightseeing, and travel after lunch (or during the lunch hour if that makes sense) then you have a FULL DAY of sightseeing even though you changed hotels.

But many people do not want to travel like that and that is up to them. However, other people around are not losing half a day when they switch hotels. Just wanted the OP and everybody else to know that.

LR220 Jul 7th, 2014 07:42 AM

I don't unpack/repack either. All my additional things (skincare, makeup, toiletries, charges, etc) are all quickly accessible kits and get put back after use. That way I also don't have to worry about leaving anything behind. Most checkin/checkouts (depending on hen you pay) don't take long if you communicate with the hostel beforehand to know what they expect you to do. We also prefer early trains or evening trains - early for day trips, late for locations where we'd want to make use of those 8-9am times the next day to avoid large crowds at most popular sites.

That being said, if you're planning 21-25 days, you definitely can't fit all of that. I'm a fast traveler and your age, but that trip sounds to me like a list of places to check off and say you've been there rather than experience it. With that much time you can easily spend 2 weeks in Italy and 1 week Greek Island hopping and have a great time. Stay 2 nights at least in Santorini and do a hike there. Fly from Rhodes to Athens and fly out from there.

wayfinder45 Jul 7th, 2014 07:53 AM

If I was going to do a fast-paced tour of Italy and Greece, with the destinations you listed, I might attempt something like this:

1 - Arrive in Venice
2 - Venice
3 - Venice
4 - Travel to Bologna
5 - Bologna
6 - Bologna to CT
7 - CT
8 - CT to Florence
9 - Florence to Rome
10 - Rome (see Vatican)
11 - Rome
12 - Rome to Naples (or Sorrento)
13 - Naples/Sorrento (day trip to Pompeii)
14 - Naples/Sorrento (day trip to AC)
15 - Naples to Mykonos (fly on Easyjet)
16 - Mykonos
17 - Mykonos (day trip to Delos)
18 - Mykonos to Santorini (fly or ferry)
19 - Santorini
20 - Santorini to Athens (fly or ferry)
21 - Athens
22 - Athens to AUS

I added a day to Venice to take account of jet lag. Also, it seems as if you are not too keen on Florence -- if that's the case I would drop it altogether and add a day elsewhere.

This type of itinerary works best when traveling lightly with only carry on luggage. If you are the type of traveler that likes to have along a lot of options (and thus large suitcases) I would strongly suggest rethinking your approach and picking a few locations to base yourselves in (maybe 3 or 4) and doing day trips to cover more ground.

Good luck with your planning!

jane1144 Jul 7th, 2014 09:49 AM

I, too, enjoy the actual travel between destinations (usually!), but I think responders are trying to remind the OP that you have to account for the travel time in your plan. Often, people are so keen to see many places that their one day in Rome (or wherever) is actually only about half a day because they have not budgeted the actual travel time in their plans.

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