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-   -   best way to travel from France to Belgium to Netherlands to Germany and Austria (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/best-way-to-travel-from-france-to-belgium-to-netherlands-to-germany-and-austria-1676497/)

felkerfam Jan 15th, 2020 03:58 PM

best way to travel from France to Belgium to Netherlands to Germany and Austria
 
We are planning to go to Paris, then Belgium, then Netherlands, onto Germany and then Austria and back to Paris. We will be gone for 28 days. What is the best way to travel? I was looking at Euro Rail pass. We have no idea what were doing! any and all advice would be helpful. We have never been before and have only purchased our airfare at this point. We hope to spend 3 days at Paris, 2 days in Belgium, then 3 days in Netherlands, then we are spending time with our former exchange students in Germany and Austria before returning to Paris. Any suggestions or advice on places to see would be appreciated. We can stay more or less days wherever as we have not booked hotels yet either.

StCirq Jan 15th, 2020 04:21 PM

1. Start studying www.seat61.com and don't count on Rail Europe offering you any advantages over point-to-point tickets.

2. Don't backtrack to Paris. Buy open-jaw tickets.

3. When you plan, figure in travel time to and from places (often a half to a full day). So, e.g., 2 days in Belgium will end up being one if you count getting there and leaving from there.

starrs Jan 15th, 2020 06:37 PM

"What is the best way to travel? "

I would use a combination of train and plane. Are you aware you can get inexpensive fares within Europe for flights?

Where are from and have you been to Europe before?

What are your interests (for the recommendation).

With 28 days and 5 cities, an average would be -
Day 1 - travel from us and land on Day 2
5 days in Paris - days 2 - 6
Day 7 - travel to 2nd city - days 7 to 11
Day 12 - travel to 3rd city - days 12 - 16
Day 17 - travel to 4th city - days 15 - 21
Day 22 - travel to 5th city - days 22- 26
Day 27 - travel to departure city
Day 28 - departure

Of course, you don't have to spend 5 days in each city, but I block out the time I'd like to spend but also include travel days. 5 cities in 28 days would be a nice pace.

Personally, I like a mix of plane and train, especially if the train segment takes a long time. If there's a good plane fare, I'd rather take a flight than a very long train trip. But that's just a personal preference.



tomboy Jan 15th, 2020 07:03 PM

Where are you from?
What interests you in traveling?
Likes: such as Museums? Cities? Countryside/scenery? Food & wine? Talking with locals? other
Dislikes of: repeat the prior
If US, how would you travel there for 28 days, say, Boston to Atlanta, with stops in DC, Savanah, Charleston?

janisj Jan 15th, 2020 07:08 PM

You list five countries (not just 5 cities) which is a LOT for just 28 days. Say you are visiting 8 cities total among the 5 countries (9 stops since you have to return to Paris) you will be very hard pressed to manage no matter the mode(s) of transport.

You say the entire trip is 28 days -- so deducting transatlantic flights and travel time between nine destinations you will have approx 20 days free on the ground for seeing/doing. So not much time per destination. Even IF you only mean one city in each country - that is still 6 stops since you made a decision to fly Round Trip instead of open jaw.

To get 3 days in a place requires 4 nights and 2 days requires 3 nights. You have planned a very ambitious trip.

starrs Jan 15th, 2020 07:24 PM


Originally Posted by janisj (Post 17046931)
You list five countries (not just 5 cities) which is a LOT for just 28 days. .

LOL!
The last time I checked, one still books flights / train travel from city to city. :-))

"..then we are spending time with our former exchange students in Germany and Austria before returning to Paris."

Using the block approach up thread, that gives you 10 days (really 11) to spend time with your former exchange student however you and/or s/he decides to split it.

I spent five days in the Netherlands last spring and traveled around within the country, but took the train to Amsterdam and flew out of AMS.


Spend as much time as you wish in any of the cities or countries. Post # 3 is just an attempt to block out the time available within your 28 days. It's the approach I use when starting the planning process. Different people use different approaches. Whatever works for you is great!

"We have no idea what were doing! any and all advice would be helpful."
If my post is helpful, great. If not, disregard it. Sounds like a great month!

starrs Jan 15th, 2020 08:02 PM

Just out of curiosity, I mapped out our 17 day trip to Italy and compared it to your 28 day trip.

Using Google maps, I entered the cities we visited in one country. I'm about to quote the mileage for driving, but we actually flew and or took a train MOST of the time. This mileage tally does not include the mileage for the week we drove around Tuscany, using one lodging for a base for a week. So town to town travel in 17 days =
1733 km and 20 hours and 39 minutes of driving.

For your route, I used Paris (as listed), Bruges (for Belgium), Amsterdam (for the Netherlands), Munich (for Germany) and Salzburg (for Austria. If you were to drive that route, the total would be =
1667 km and 17 hours and 10 minutes of driving.

That would be about the same amount of driving in 28 days vs our 17 days.

I think it's very doable. Of course, you will be choosing the cities in those countries that are interesting to you. But I think you have a very doable trip.

neckervd Jan 16th, 2020 09:04 AM

3 days (one of them jetlagged) at Paris, 1 1/2 days at Brussels and 2 1/2 days at Amsterdam isn't enough for these cities anyway. But there are tons of other interesting places along this itinerary, like Arras, Lens (Louvre), Lille, Brugge, Gent, Antwerpen........

starrs Jan 16th, 2020 09:25 AM


Originally Posted by neckervd (Post 17047258)
3 days (one of them jetlagged) at Paris, 1 1/2 days at Brussels and 2 1/2 days at Amsterdam isn't enough for these cities anyway.

I agree. With 28 days, there's ample time to see and enjoy all of the stops/ locations. No need to rush through the first three.

Macross Jan 16th, 2020 02:50 PM

Starrs is right about the flights within Europe. We do that often. We love Dublin so will spend time there coming and going and then book flights from European sites. An example we booked flights to Berlin from Paris this May and using Air France. We are spending two nights there and then flying to Berlin. Paris is a great jet lagged day if you have it. We fly from east coast so not bad. Flix bus and train are possibilities and look at maninseat61.com We are taking a train from Berlin for several nights so my husband can see a submarine. We give and take. Have fun planning. If I were to give up one thing it would be Austria maybe. Depends on where your exchange students live though. Where in Germany?

Sassafrass Jan 16th, 2020 05:56 PM

Everybody is a first timer at some point, so enjoy everything being new to you.
When is your trip? Weather wise that can be important, depending on what you wish to do.
How many in your group, ages?

Get some guide books!. Get Rick Steves, Europe Through the Back Door, just as kind of an introduction and for travel logistics. Then get a Fodors or Fromers or National Geographic, or Eye Witness, or some small Best of ————— books for each country or city which interests you. You can buy them, get them from your library, even second hand because lots of things don’t change too much. You are spending a ton of money on flights, hotels and sights, so money spent on guide books will make the other money spent more worthwhile.

Do not buy anything else, like plane tickets or rail tickets until your itinerary is really firmed up.

Do not back track and do not stay in the same place twice. If you must arrive to, and depart from, Paris, do not stay in Paris at the beginning. You have to be there for the night before your flight home and checking into and out of hotels in the same city twice eats up lots of time. so put all of your time in Paris at the end. Arrive in Paris and immediately either take the train or fly on to your next destination.

On a short trip of 8 to 10 days, you can push yourself and run around like mad, trying to see a lot. On a longer trip, you simply cannot do that. You will burn out and start to forget where you even are; churches will start look alike, you won’t remember what wonderful thing you ate where, etc., things will become a blur. The more you run around, the less you take in. Take some time to be still and observe the life around you. You will need to do laundry. You may want an afternoon to chill in a park. Eating can be just as much a travel experience as a museum. You also save money and time and see a lot more by looking for places close to each other logistically. I strongly suggest you consider more time in Paris with a day trip or two.

This cannot be emphasized enough. Do not think, “two days in a country.” Just a few Major sights in a city like Paris takes days. Anything else in France takes weeks. Read, research and pick carefully what you want to see and which city. Why did you pick Belgium and Amsterdam? What draws you?

Getting from your hotel to a train station, then a train trip, then getting to the next hotel takes a lot more time then you might think, each move on average takes 1/2 day, sometimes less, but more often, much more. Don’t underestimate. Trains are great for trips of about 3 to 5 hours, and are really great for going city center to city center, saving lots of time getting to airports. Longer times, however, may work better using some of Europe’s cheap airlines. As you plan, lay things out to include travel and never, ever count the same day in two places. For planing do not count travel days as sightseeing days. With more experience, one can just figure nights or days, but for a beginner, make your plan more complete. This is just a guide to get started, not a suggested itinerary because I do not know exactly what you want.

Day 1, Arrive Paris, take train to Bruges (or wherever you are going in Belgium), arrive late. nt. in Bruges (2 days, 3 nts.)
Day 2, Tour Bruges, nt. Bruges
Day 3, Day trip to another place in Belgium, nt. in Bruges
Day 4, Travel by train from Bruges to Amsterdam, Arrive late. nt. in Amsterdam. (3 days, 4 nts.)
Day 5, Tour Amsterdam, nt. in Amsterdam
Day 6, Tour Amsterdam, or day trip. nt. in Amsterdam
Day 7, Day trip to Delft or Haarlem or windmills, etc. your choice, nt. In Amsterdam
Day 8, Fly to Austria (Salzburg, Vienna, ?) (6 days, 7 nts.)
Days 9 -14, sightseeing, visiting. . . .
Day 15, Travel By train to Germany. . . . (6 days, 7 nts,)
Days 16 - 21, sightseeing, visiting. . . .
Day 22, Fly or take train to Paris, (5 days, 6 nts.)
Days 23 - 27, Paris with one or two day trips.
Day 28, depart for home

Have fun planning!

menachem Jan 17th, 2020 12:30 AM

Day 2: Brussels as a base, day trip to Brugge
Day 4: Train to Rotterdam (use Rotterdam as a base, not Amsterdam)
Day 8: take nighttrain to Vienna.
Also Amsterdam - Munich is easy by train.

please don't fly within Europe if there are good trains.

Sassafrass Jan 17th, 2020 01:07 AM

Ghent is lovely too, as a base, but depends on weather. The river front lined with cafes is wonderful in warm weather. How well do you sleep on a train? It can be fun, but be sure the timing is good if doing an overnight train. If you arrive too early in the morning, you can’t check into a hotel yet, and not much to do.

starrs Jan 17th, 2020 02:30 AM


Originally Posted by menachem (Post 17047662)

please don't fly within Europe if there are good trains.

Why ever not?





ahbonvraiment Jan 17th, 2020 03:08 AM


Originally Posted by starrs (Post 17047679)
Why ever not?

first because it pollutes a lot.
Second because it is a lot less comfortable.
Third because in most cases you don't save time if you take into consideration going to the airport and from airport to city center.
Fourth because luggage travel easier on trains.
Fifth because it pollutes a lot more.

starrs Jan 17th, 2020 04:06 AM

Personal preferences.
I definitely don't agree with this one - "Fourth because luggage travel easier on trains"

I like train travel. I like plane travel. I choose which one works best given the locations and time contraints.

Personal preferences.

Re 1 and 5 -

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-49349566

Re 2 - it depends
I'm far more comfortable on a 1 hour flight than a 7 hour train ride

Re 3 - it depends

Macross Jan 17th, 2020 05:41 AM

We are flying from Paris because it is a ten hour train trip to Berlin and always do from Dublin. We are taking a train to Kiel from Berlin. We weigh the difference as I like the train but in this case a plane ride is so much quicker and cheaper.

menachem Jan 17th, 2020 07:18 AM


Originally Posted by Macross (Post 17047731)
We are flying from Paris because it is a ten hour train trip to Berlin and always do from Dublin. We are taking a train to Kiel from Berlin. We weigh the difference as I like the train but in this case a plane ride is so much quicker and cheaper.

Or maybe rethink destinations.


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