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Europe in 21 days

Old Mar 10th, 2014, 05:33 PM
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Europe in 21 days

We are planning on traveling to Europe at the end of June for around 21 days, would like to visit as many cities as possible, thinking on arriving to Frankfurt then taking a train or driving to Prague from there to Vienna then Venice, Rome, Florence probably flying then to Barcelona and finishing the trip in Paris. We are traveling with 2 teenagers well adapted to traveling. Is it better to take the train or safe/easier to travel by Car? We are 4 people. I read that there are some cities where you cant even drive around. Any help and suggestions are very much appreciated
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Old Mar 10th, 2014, 06:51 PM
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Fly into the first city you actually want to visit. Don't waste time and money flying into Frankfurt first.

Going more places means spending more time traveling and less time seeing anything.
With three weeks, you will have to take into careful consideration the time it takes to get from place to place and cut some places from your itinerary.
Calculate a half day on average from hotel check out to hotel check in each time you move.

Allow an extra day for jet lag in your arrival city.

Plan on some bases with longer stays and day trips.

Yes, there are zones with limited access in some cities.
You will probably fly from one major city to the next.
In major cities, you won't need a car.
Rent a car for a few days at a time for countryside exploration.

In Italy, use trains, point to point.

Allow roughly a minimum of
3 days, 4 nights, Prague
4 days, 5 nights, Paris
4 days, 5 nights, Rome
2 days, 3 nights, Venice
2-4 days, 3-5 nights in Tuscany, Florence if you want to see any hills towns
3 days, four nights, Barcelona (kind of a shame to not see more of Spain)
Any of these times could easily be increased.
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Old Mar 10th, 2014, 07:19 PM
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Eight locations in 21 days means less than 3 nights in each location. You'll spend at least half a day, as well as many euro, each time you change location. A good place to start your trip planning is by paring down your list of destinations. One could easily spend the entire three weeks in Italy. I always think the hardest part of planning a trip to Europe is deciding where NOT to go.
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Old Mar 10th, 2014, 07:23 PM
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>> would like to visit as many cities as possible,
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Old Mar 10th, 2014, 07:51 PM
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Crazy plan. You'll have about a day and a half in most places, and some of them are places where having a car would be a total nightmare. I'd start over and plan for about 4 destinations. There is no requirement to see most of Europe on 3 weeks. It's always much easier and less costly and way more fun to see a few places in depth.
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Old Mar 11th, 2014, 06:02 AM
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Excluding Frankfurt (is this just what appears to be a good fare deal?) you list seven cities and as janisj says, you've not taken the transfers between them into account.

Choose(IMO) a max of 4 and ignore Frankfurt, it's going to cost to get anywhere from there. Fly into your first choice and out of your last choice. Travelling by hire car would be very expensive, as you'd likely be renting in one country and leaving the car in another and the fees will be enormous. You won't want or need a car in any of your seven cities.
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Old Mar 11th, 2014, 06:14 AM
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Yes, if you're just interested in cities, travel by train. The train takes you from city center to city center. You won't want to drive in cities, and it's expensive to park. And gas is $8+/gallon. And then there's the expense of toll roads.
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Old Mar 11th, 2014, 06:17 AM
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It seems like to meet the goal of seeing as many cities as possible you could get in at least 3 more cities.
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Old Mar 11th, 2014, 07:02 AM
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It's impossible to see everything in Europe on one trip. You really need to prioritize your cities.
You could fly into Prague and then take the train to Vienna--both great large cities.
Then, fly on Niki Airlines to Rome. (Travel to Venice from Vienna is very difficult due to distance and The Alps.)
Take a fast train up to Florence and another fast train to Venice.
Take your pick of Paris (via EasyJet.com) or Barcelona (via Vueling Airlines). You won't have time to do both.
This itinerary should be do-able.
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Old Mar 11th, 2014, 07:10 AM
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First-timer.

Wondering if the OP lives under a bridge and harasses goats . . .

If this is a legitimate inquiry, then for your sanity heed the advice above and cut your itinerary and reconfigure your goals. Unless you're running the European equivalent of a cannonball run, there's no reason to rush around like this over much of Western Europe and part of Central Europe. Prioritize and group geographically. The European nations listed in your wish list are not all the size of Rhode Island or Delaware.

And given that you have teens, you're probably young enough to go back (they certainly are) and visit whatever you miss this time. Look, see, experience, relax, enjoy . . .
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Old Mar 11th, 2014, 08:51 AM
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1. Think about your travel plan and why you "want to visit as many cities as possible." List the reasons.

My preference is not to spend time on highways (which look about the same everywhere) and train stations; I'd rather visit sights and stroll around cities/towns. I'd rather see as much as I can than go to as many places as I can.

2. In many cases, it will take as much time to get from one place to another as you will have sightseeing in that city.

3. People I have met who hate Europe or certain European cities do so because they did not have enough time in that city/cities. It takes time to acclimate yourself to a new location.

4. Have you looked at what these cities have to offer and decided on the 1 or 2 sights (out of the abundance of sightseeing) that you want to see? How will you feel when you return home knowing how much you missed.

5. There are cities that do not allow driving in the center. If you violate the rules you will face a stiff fine which will arrive in the mail about a year later (once they find you) with penalties tacked on to the original fine.

6. If you do go along with this plan then take trains since you are only going to cities. The trains will get you to the city centers and from there it will be a short walk or taxi ride to your hotels.

7. You can view train schedules on this site to determine your travel time. Add about a half hour on each end of the trip to get to and from train stations. Add time pack and unpack and check in and out of hotels.

http://www.bahn.de/i/view/USA/en/index.shtml
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Old Mar 11th, 2014, 02:02 PM
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I did a trip something like this on my first trip to Europe many, many years ago. We did an organised coach trip. The advantage of that is (1) you get taken from hotel to hotel and you don't waste time trying to get orientated, and (2) you get a city tour included which gives you a very brief overview (and you really don't have time for much else). The downside is that you go where they take you (my Dad got to the stage that he used to stay on the coach and say "I am NOT visiting another church"). I kept a diary of that first trip. I now look back and say to my husband (whom I met on that coach trip )"Did you know we visited Lyon? We spent a night there!?" Neither of us remembers it at all.

Whilst we both enjoyed our first trip to Europe, we have NEVER done a trip like that again. Now we focus on an area / region. We try to stay in cities for 5 nights. We stay in apartments. We don't have cars in cities .... definitely not recommended! We do have cars when we visit the countryside - essential!

When we took our teenagers on their first trip to Europe for a month, each member of the family got to choose one location. So we ended up flying into London and doing a very brief visit to Bath and Salisbury (and funnily enough our girls remember very little of this part of the trip). We then had a week (or just under) in Lake Como (Dad's choice), Switzerland, based in Lauterbrunnen (Daughter #1's choice)(car for this part of the trip only), Paris (Daughter #2's choice) and London (Mom's choice).

I would suggest that you discuss your "must sees" as a family and try to cut some out. I believe you will have a much nicer trip.
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Old Mar 11th, 2014, 07:38 PM
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Thank you very much for your responses, I want to make this nice and memorable vacation, not one where we don't even remember where we have gone.
We are thinking on probably visiting just Italy: Rome, Florence and Venice and maybe flying to Barcelona or just Paris, Bruges and Brussels.
I liked the idea of staying at an apartment, it would give us the flexibility do you guys have any suggestion on a site where we can rent centrally located condos?
I guess Italy would be better by train, is it a good idea to rent a car if we decide to do Paris Bruges and brussels or shall we stick to the train?
Thanks again!
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Old Mar 11th, 2014, 07:42 PM
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And yes, Frankfurt was the cheaper option to get to Europe from where we live, around 1,000 on an overnight direct flight. any suggestions for cheap flights from Canada to Europe?
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Old Mar 11th, 2014, 09:44 PM
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Even though that flight to Frankfurt is direct, in the end it doesn't matter because you want to go someplace else. You will then use most of your first day getting to where you want to be, and that will cost money. The last day will be wasted returning to Frankfurt (you will need the night before for your return flight) for the flight home, and that trip will cost money. Every day you are traveling is costing money, even if you are not seeing anything.

Think about the fact that you have spent most of the first and last days traveling, in effect taking away two of your 21 days, leaving only 19. The first of those wil be jet-laged in your first city, so you are left with 18 sight seeing days. You might as well cut two days (and hotel stays and train trips) from your trip and fly into and out of your first and last cities. Your actual vacation time would be the same.

So, rather than thinking in terms of cheap fare to Europe, think cheap fare to at least one city you want to visit. Look at mult-city options.

Italy would be easy to take the train, using point to point tickets. Lots and lots to see and experience - enough for a life time. You could fill your whole 21 days with art, music, architecture, medieval cities, stunning coast lines, ruins like Pompeii, and still explore only a miniscule amount of what Italy has to offer, plus the food!

Knowing though that like most of us, you want to see what another country offers, 10 days would give a taste of Venice, Florence and Rome. Paris for five days would make a nice contrast with Italy. Bruges is pretty, but consider Amsterdam rather than Brussels, more interesting for teens, I think.

The exact number of days you have, not counting day flying to Europe, and day returning, becomes important in planning what you can logically do on the trip.

Start laying your trip out logistically, including travel days.
There are unlimited options. Here are two.
Day 1, arrive Venice
Days 2 & 3, Venice
Day 4, travel to Florence
Days 5 & 6, Florence with day trip
Day 7, travel to Rome
Days 8, 9, 10, Rome
Day 11, fly to Paris
Etc.

Alternative
Day 1, arrive Venice
Days 2 & 3, Venice
Day 4, train to Rome,
Days 5,6,7,8 & 9, Rome, stay in an apartment
Do day trips from Rome to Florence, Orvieto and/ or Ostia Antica.
Day 10, fly to Paris
etc

Get your three or four major places pinned down. Then expand on things nearby
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Old Mar 11th, 2014, 10:19 PM
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sassafrass lays it out the way I see it whenever we get posts where someone has booked the cheapest flight . . . and it ends up costing twice what they are 'saving'.

We had one where they booked RT in/out of Dublin when they wanted to visit the UK and Paris . . . but gee -- that flight into Dublin was just sooooooo cheap!

Well not . . . when you count the cost of flying on to Paris (including the cost to check baggage on that 'discount airline') and then having to get back to Dublin from London. and losing three days in Paris and England. Saving $200 or $300 on a 'cheap' airfare may end up costing you $500 to $1000 . . .
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Old Mar 12th, 2014, 05:53 AM
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Once you get your itinerary fixed, then you can start to look at apartments. One caveat: if you stay in an apartment, you won't have a front desk to give you directions and recommend restaurants. For that reason, I usually recommend hotels for first-timers. However, with a family (especially with younger children) an apartment makes a lot of sense. Just make sure that apartment is centrally located, so you don't have to spend a lot of time getting back and forth to the historic center that has all the sights.

A good site for general information about renting apartments and villas is www.slowtrav.com. You can rent from individuals on web sites like vrbo.com and flipkey.com. Or you can rent through an agency that vets the apartment first. I prefer the latter. You might pay slightly more but it's a form of insurance. You never know what you get from an individual renter (the reviews are screened). And I always pay with a credit card; that's another level of insurance. You can check the reviews on Slow Travel for well-recommended agencies.
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Old Mar 12th, 2014, 05:24 PM
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Although my husband and I have already gone to Barcelona and Paris, I want my younger kid to visit Barcelona and Paris so the tentative itinerary is:

Day 1: Fly to Paris
Day 2-6 Paris (5 nights)
Day 7-9 Train/Flight?? to Venice (3 nights)
Day 10-12 Train to Florence (3 nights)
Day 13-18 Train to Rome (3 nights)
Day 19-22 Fly to Barcelona (4 nights)
Day 23 Fly home

I am not really sure about Venice, I've been told is very touristy so would be interested in finding another option close by. Any suggestions?
When I was checking the flights, I found out if I book all the flights at once, the itineraries are really long within europe, are the discount airlines safe?
Although we are staying in big cities, I would like to see a little bit of the country side, not sure if we really have time though but any suggestions are really appreciated
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Old Mar 12th, 2014, 06:06 PM
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well,of course Venice is very touristy...it's one of the most beautiful places on earth. There are lots of close-by alternatives, but none of them even remotely like Venice. It is unique in its history (which I would hope you'd have researched) and location. If you just go there without any appreciation of the history, of course it won't mean anything other than the look of the place, which is of course totally superficial.
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Old Mar 12th, 2014, 06:39 PM
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>

You would be one of the tourists!

Why go to some place that is near Venice but not Venice? Why not just go some place else? All the places you've mention on your itinerary are very touristy. Of course, in any city, Venice included, there are plenty of areas where you find few tourists.

There are thousands of towns between Paris and Florence you could go to. Open any guide book and see what appeals. Or you could add additional time to any of your other locations.

Between Florence and Rome you could rent a car and stay in Todi or Pienza or any of the many small towns and see the countryside.

If you bypass Venice you're omitting a wonderful, unique experience. A beautiful, magical city.
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