Europe Itinerary... First timer

Feb 22nd, 2015, 03:49 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2015
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Europe Itinerary... First timer

What do you guys think of my tentative itinerary for my first time Europe trip??? Can't change arrival or departure ticket, anything else is flexible....

Any tips, suggestions are appreciated!!

June 27----Arrive in Amsterdam
June 28----Amsterdam
June 29----Amsterdam
June 30----Leave to Paris- (flight duration 1:15 hours, leave late in the evening)
July 1---- Paris
July 2---- Paris
July 3---- Paris ….Leave to Venice---train overnight Thello sleeper train
July 4 ---- arrive at 6am, spend day in Venice
July 5---- Train to Rome 4 hours (5am-9am)
July 6 ----Rome
July 7----Rome
July 8----Rome
July 9----Leave to Barcelona (Flight duration: 1:30 hours, leave in the morning)
July 11---Barcelona
July 12--- Leave for Madrid (Train duration 2:30 hours)
July 13---Madrid
July 14--- Flight to Boston
lina_atehortua is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2015, 04:35 PM
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I'm sorry to say this but the classic mistake of the first time visitor to europe is to try to go to too many places in too little time (6 major tourist cities in 15 days) - because:

1) They underestimate how long it takes to get form one place to another; a 1:15 hour plane ride will take at least 5 hours and a 4 hour train ride will take at least 6 hours

2) They underestimate how long it takes to see major sights and travel around within each city

It appears that you have fallen into both traps. If it were me I would change your tickets (if you can do for a small fee) and return from Rome rather then Madrid. OR, eliminate Italy and go from Paris straight to Spain.

I'm not sure on how you decided on this itinerary - but I would go back and look at each city, make a list of the must sees there and - using the MIchelin green guide which rates sights and tells you how long it takes to see each one) and then determine how you will do that in the very limited hours you have in each city. Also have a look to see which days the various museums and sights are closed - different for each one.

If you only want to see 2 or 3 sights in each city you can do that with the idea of going back to the places you want to see in more depth - but what you have is a VERY rushed race through incredible cities - with really no time to relax, watch the (new, different) world go by and feel the culture of each place.
nytraveler is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2015, 06:55 PM
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I'm guessing from your post that you are a relatively young solo traveller. If my guess is wrong and you will be a group of 2 or mare and/ or are beyond the youthful backpacker stage of life, this is definitely too many cities in too little time. But even if you are solo and spry, this is still a very aggressive itinerary.

There is a fast train between Amsterdam and Paris city centers, that will likely be much more convenient than trekking to and from the airport in both cities.

I'm struck by the lack of sleep you will have for the Venice/ Rome portion of the trip. I don't know how much sleep you'll actually get on a sleeper train, or how much you will enjoy one groggy day in Venice (not much will be open at 6 am), or how happy you will be to awake before 4 am to catch a train at 5.

Is nightlife of any kind an interest of yours? If so, you basically have no time for it in any city, because you will need to be up early each morning.

Strongly consider eliminating at least one and probably two cities from this itinerary in order to actually experience and enjoy the places you do visit. You will love Europe. Have fun!
msteacher is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2015, 01:39 AM
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I really don't see any problem with this itinerary. It's not true that Lina hasn't considered the travel time, it's right there in the itinerary. I've often wondered if some forum members have an automatic response they send out whenever they see an itinerary with multiple cities.

The plan covers eighteen days and has six cities, two of which are just stopover points for one day. There are three and a half days in Amsterdam, three full days in Paris, one full day in Venice, four full days in Rome, two and a half days in Barcelona, and a full day in Madrid.

I might be inclined to add a day in Paris, perhaps taking it from Amsterdam. However, that depends on your interests, and whether you're considering any day trips. It would help if you would tell us a bit more about yourself.
bvlenci is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2015, 03:05 AM
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The first problem is the "late night" flight to Paris. Flight may be 1:15 but you need to get to the airport, check in 2 hr before the flight and then get to central Paris from that airport. Did you factor in all that time (and money, not insignificant) when choosing flight over train? Also how late - how to you plan to get from the airport to your hotel in Paris - does that mode of transportation run at that time? What if the flight is late?

The one day in Venice and one in Madrid are the problems. Looks like you are stuck with Madrid. Much as I love Venice I might skip that and fly from Paris to Rome. Or otherwise I guess I'd steal a night from Rome and add it to Venice.

The idea of skipping Italy all together on this trip and spending more time in the other three countries is probably best but it's so hard to 'skip' Italy.
isabel is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2015, 04:11 AM
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IMHO, you will be doing a lot of sightseeing through a window of some public conveyance. Too many places, too many changes...I was exhausted after reading the itinerary. All of the changes take time to checkout, transit to train station or airport, find your lodging in a strange city, check-in, and on and on.

You could add a day to Paris by dropping Venice. The Italians have a saying, Il dolci fare niente," the sweetness of doing nothing. Part of the European lifestyle is to take it easy. Sitting at a table in a cafe watching the world go by is a legitimate vacation activity. Avoiding a marathon at a dead run is a more cogent traveling strategy.

Buon viaggio,
rbciao47 is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2015, 06:07 AM
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Could not agree more with the advice given above. You are spending way too much time traveling and way to little experiencing your destinations. Since you are stuck with Amsterdam and Madrid as arrival and departure cities, I would consider eliminating Italy from your trip this time. Or, include Italy and fly directly from Rome to Madrid the day before your flight to Boston. I'd also skip Venice - one day isn't worth the effort. If you eliminate Venice, Barcelona and Madrid (except for your flight home), you can give the rest of your itinerary the time it merits.

Take the train from Amsterdam to Paris.
mamcalice is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2015, 06:27 AM
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This trip is fast paced, sure, but I agree with bvlenci that this is a mostly reasonable itinerary and would be enjoyable. I don't think the OP has to eliminate three places to get maximum enjoyment, but crossing off one place might help.

lina, what are your major interests? What cities or countries are you looking forward to visiting the most? Do you like art museums, or want opportunities to strike into the countryside? Tell us more about what you are into, and that could help tune your itinerary a bit.

For example, if you really love art and sculpture and are planning many museum visits in addition to experiencing these cities, I might recommend cutting Barcelona and adding time to Madrid: Barcelona has fantastic open air art and architecture, but Madrid has the three world class art museums that can't be missed if you're an art lover. I'd also consider shifting from Venice to Florence if you particularly are interested in Renaissance art.

Great start, and whatever you decide, it will be a nice first trip to Europe!
inspiredexplorer is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2015, 06:49 AM
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I agree that you might want to look into a train to Paris instead of a flight. However, Schiphol airport is fairly convenient to Amsterdam, and a late arrival in Paris wouldn't be a problem because that day is devoted to Amsterdam rather than Paris.
bvlenci is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2015, 07:06 AM
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Yes train from Amsterdam to Paris will be as quick or quicker than flying and much cheaper if you book far far in advance at - as low as 39 euros - what I booked last year in high season of August. For a good look at European trains and overnight trains (which are not for light sleepers if you want to sleep on the sleeper train!) check these info-laden sites: - good for discounted tickets like Thalys and in Italy and Barcelona to Madrid, etc; and
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2015, 07:13 AM
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I'm guessing that art isn't a major interest, because Florence isn't on the itinerary.

I also disagree that one full day in Venice isn't worth the effort. Venice is one of the two places to which you can get a direct overnight train from Paris. Going directly to Rome wouldn't save any effort at all, unless you flew, which would take more time out of the day in Paris than the overnight train would. Also, Venice is a place that it would be worth quite a bit of effort to see it only for an hour. In one day, you wouldn't have time to visit museums and churches, but, as I've already said, I suspect that's not the purpose of this trip.

Sitting at a café watching the world go by is a great way to spend a holiday if you're the type of person who enjoys that kind of thing, but it's not everyone's preferred style of traveling. It's not mine, for example. And the "dolce far' niente" is also not my style. I've never spent more than half an hour sitting at a café. Well, once I sat on the terrace of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, watching the sun set, and hoping the waiter didn't come around to take another drink order. That probably took more than half an hour.

I myself am a big museum person, and I would want more time in a city like Rome or Paris for that reason. However, I don't presume to think everyone has my interests. I could easily spend a week in Paris and run my husband ragged, rather than "fare niente". He insists on a post-prandial nap, and tries to keep me to one museum a day, and we compromise.

I've taken the overnight train from Paris to Milan (which is the other place it goes), and it's no Orient Express. I took it precisely because it left me more time on the ground for what had to be a very brief trip from home (in Italy). You can save a lot of money by traveling in a couchette car, which is what I did, and if you're a woman, you can request to be put in a car with only other women. You can also save a lot of money by buying the tickets more than a month in advance. Bring your own food and beverages on board, rather than relying on the awful and unreliable food service on the train. When I took the train, there was no potable water on board at all, so I used my bottle of water even to brush my teeth. Some people advise avoiding this train like the plague, but I would say that as long as your expectations are low, and if you can sleep on moving trains, it's a good way to save time and money. You leave Paris in the evening, and you're in Italy in the morning, giving you a full day in both places.
bvlenci is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2015, 07:40 AM
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Why stop at 6 cities? You could spend a day in Amsterdam, then move towards Paris for a day, then spend a day in Paris, then head southwest towards Italy, hitting one city a day all along its length, then move west along the southern end of France hitting a city a day until you get into Spain . . .

Or you could shorten this up a bit. Forget the number of cities. You are in Four Countries in a total of 18 days. 7 of those days will involve significant travel. That leaves you a more accurate 11 days of visiting 6 cities. By your profile you look young, but even young minds can have memory overload. You should bring an excellent camera and take thousands of pictures, chronologically, so that you can compare your receipts and cc bills with your pictures to try to document some aspect of what you did, as you will have no independent memory of it. This is as busy of a schedule as I've seen.

I'd cut it to three cities, starting in Amsterdam as you indicate for a couple of days, train to Paris, for 5-6 days, then on to Spain to finish, assuming that your flights can't be changed. If you're dead set on seeing this much, I don't see how anyone else can really help your itinerary, other than to say you are grossly underestimating the travel time. FYI, the 1:15 flight time is exactly that, gate to gate time. If you have not considered getting to, waiting in ticket and security lines at the airport, and then getting to your hotel, I'd add 2 hours to each end of each trip. I am also assuming that you are backpacking, or do you have plans for your luggage in your 10 hours in Venice.
apersuader65 is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2015, 08:26 AM
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You have received good advice. I'm a fan of a fast itinerary because it is a rush! However, many things can also go wrong with so many variables. Also, you will get weary. Think of all the walking you'll do every day for each of those days. Consider a vacation from your vacation.

Regarding gate to gate, this also can be true of train travel (in that the station may be across town).

If you do this (and even if you don't), plan each city geographically so you don't waste too much time criss-crossing the city to different sights.
Bitter is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2015, 08:44 AM
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Come on Persuader, you haven't been following many travel forums if this is the busiest schedule you've seen. Here's one, for example, that's much busier and I've seen others that were even busier than that, but I can't find them now.

I don't consider three days in a city to be overload. There are two cities in this schedule with one day only, but they're cities that are primarily waypoints. All the others have either three or four days.
bvlenci is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2015, 09:29 AM
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"What do you guys think of my tentative itinerary for my first time Europe trip???

That's easy. It sucks.

As most above have indicated you are planning to do to much moving in too little time. This is typical for first time travellers to Europe. The first mistake they actually make is to think they are gong to visit 'Europe'. Using that word indicates a way of thinking about it. Europe is not a country.

Home appears to be near Boston. What you are saying is the equivalent of saying you plan to visit N. America. That's Mexico, the USA and Canada all combined. In 16 DAYS (you don't count arrival and departure days, they're a write off).

If someone told you they planned to visit Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, San Francisco, Vancouver, Toronto and Boston in 16 days, would you say to them that that was a good idea?

Or would you suggest they pick one country and even just one part of one country (east vs. west for example)in order to waste less time moving and at least get a little feel for one area.

There is as much to see and do in any one country in Europe as there is in the entire USA lina. You cannot 'visit Europe' in 16 days. You can only visit a few places within Europe. In travel as in many things, less is more. Move less, see and do more.
Sojourntraveller is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2015, 09:46 AM
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I am someone who always tells people to slow down, but this is presumably a young person traveling solo, and it is hardly so bad as to be told "it sucks." That is just ridiculous!
We regularly see people trying to do the downright impossible, or trying to plan a trip like this with kids in tow, but this is a perfectly reasonable itinerary for someone wanting to get a taste of several major European cities.
yorkshire is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2015, 10:35 AM
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Actually, a lot of your itinerary at the beginning is good. Where it goes wrong is the day in Venice after a night train and one day in Madrid at the end.

I do not know if left luggage is even open at that time of the morning in Venice. I am afraid your day will be exhausting and you will not get the joy from Venice that it can be.

It is a shame to go to Madrid and not have time to see things nearby like Toledo or Segovia. Madrid would have been better paired with other cities like Seville. OTOH, the Madrid area will be burning hot in Mid July (Rome and Venice, also), so perhaps just as well you have less time there.

There is one other thing I would not like, and that is your whole trip is focused on only cities, but they are all interesting, and you may go back someday and visit smaller places.

You might look and see if a train from Amsterdam to Paris would be better than flying. Take into consideration the time it takes to get to the airport, time to go through security, and again cost and time to get into Paris. Trains from city center to city center can be a lot less stressful, and, in the end, faster.

You need to make a couple of changes, but without knowing your interests and what you want from this trip, I can't tell you what would be best for you. Are you wanting to see art and architecture, culture, pubs and cafes, history, ruins? If you share a bit about yourself, people can make suggestions that will be more appropriate for you, personally.
Sassafrass is online now  
Feb 23rd, 2015, 11:01 AM
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What is neat about such an itinerary is how easy it is now. I had a couple four country trips back in the day, packing 4 different "starter" currencies as well as traveler's checks.
Bitter is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2015, 12:15 PM
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Sojourn, your comparison is ridiculous. The distance from the beginning, Amsterdam, to the end, Madrid, is considerably less than just the distance from Vancouver to San Francisco.

Lina hasn't been back since asking her question, either scared off by the criticism, or disgusted at all the sarcasm and put-down.

Notice that in the link I posted above, 23rd February at 6:44 PM, there was an itinerary that was seriously overly ambitious, and yet several of us managed to help the poster pare it down without denigrating her. This particular itinerary is nowhere near as ambitious as that. It's exactly the kind of trip that lots of young people traveling alone take on, and they all seem to enjoy themselves.
bvlenci is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2015, 12:28 PM
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>>It's not true that Lina hasn't considered the travel time, it's right there in the itinerary. <<

But it does seem lina is only factoring in the actual flight and/or train times. That 1:15 flight from A'dam to Paris would actually eat up about half a day what w/ checking out, train to the airport, flight, train into Paris, checking in. At least 5 hours in transit.

But I don't think the itinerary is terrible . . I do think there is too little time in Paris, Venice and either of the cities in Spain. So I'd cut one simply to reduce all the travel time and dashing about.
janisj is online now  

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