Europe itinerary questions


Dec 9th, 2016, 08:48 PM
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Europe itinerary questions

We're going to be in Europe in July 2017 for 4 weeks and are trying to string together an itinerary.
Haven't been to continent before
Basically, the issue that I'm grappling with is whether it makes sense to do Dubrovnik and Triglav vs Cinque Terre and possibly a hike in Switzerland (Bernese Oberland or something similar). I'm not sure whether the Dalmatian coast, Amalfi coast, and Cinque Terre are going to be too similar to one another, and opted for more time in Toscana.
Also, with the schedule below I'm missing out on LEcce, Stromboli, and Capri altogether.....

Would like to have your thoughts. Why Triglav? Just found the pictures to the top of the summit pretty amazing and we are into that sort of thing.

We're flying in and out of Rome.
Basically, our itinerary is:
Day 1 - Land in Rome in the evening
Days 2-4: Rome
Day 5: Bus to Positano
Days 6,7: Positano
Day 8: Bus to Bari and catch ferry to Dubrovnik. Here I have a question - is Lecce a better option? We're after history and natural beauty
Days 9-10: Dubrovnik
Day 11-12: Drive to Bled over 2 days stopping at somewhere on the Dalmatian coast
Day 13: Bled (1/2 day), drive to Triglav national park
Days 14-15: Triglav (get to the top)
Day 16: Bled
Day 17: Bled to Venice
Days 18-19: Venice
Day 20-21: Padova
Day 22 - 27: Florence and Toscana (countryside)
Day 28: Head back to Rome
Day 29-30: Rome, Leave in the evening
ronsaik is offline  
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Dec 9th, 2016, 09:34 PM
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IMO, you're moving around too much to enjoy fully almost all of the places you'll be visiting.

"... I'm missing out on LEcce, Stromboli, and Capri altogether."

Well, yes, you can't see everything in 3-4 countries in 28/29 days. You could spend the entire time in Italy alone and not see everything.

If you like the look of Triglav, you should google images of hiking in the Dolomites, Aosta Valley, the Valtellina and the Appennino Tosco-Emiliano National Park.

You seem to be renting a car in Croatia and dropping it in Slovenia. You need to investigate what that will cost as there will probably be a fairly large surcharge for a 2-country, one-way rental.
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Dec 9th, 2016, 10:10 PM
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Thanks, Jean. I had to choose between hiking in the Dolomites vs Triglav vs the Swiss Alps. I chose Triglav as you can get to the top.
Croatia and Slovenia are both pretty small countries, I would've had the same issue with southern Italy thrown in instead.
Good point about the car - didn't think of that...
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Dec 10th, 2016, 12:32 AM
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This itinerary is WAY too rushed for MY tastes. Only 3 days in Rome (easily worth a week), one day of which will be lost to jet lag? Only 2 days on the Amalfi Coast (easily worth a week)? Day 11-12 would you have driving at least 700 km – and missing most of Croatia’s gems (Croatia itself is easily worth 3 or 4 weeks, and Slovenia easily worth a week or two).

Honestly, what is it that you want to accomplish with this trip, and how do you think you will do it with so much time in transit and so little time to see or do anything?

Sorry to be blunt, but your plan is NOT realistic unless you simply want to say you've been to X, Y, and Z (without actually seeing anything in X or Y or Z).

If you've already purchased flights into an out of Rome and do even the tiniest bit of research, you'll find it hard to figure out what to eliminate from places in or near that magnificent city -- even with a month.

Look at a map and get a good guidebook or two (or spend some time with a few in your local library), identify the things you most want to see in each location, check their opening/closing times on the internet, and mark them on a calendar. Then pencil in your transportation, add some time on either side (for getting to/from your lodging, checking in/out, packing/unpacking, getting oriented, etc.). Then see how things fit together.

You apparently have the great privilege of a 4-week trip. Please take advantage of it by using it to actually see some of the places that make you want to travel to Rome and a few carefully selected other places!

Good luck!
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Dec 10th, 2016, 01:43 AM
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Hi kja -you might have missed a few things. I'm actually giving 5 days to Rome - 3 at the start and 2 at the finish.
I spent a year in Istanbul and that wasn't enough, but 5 days in Rome should be adequate to get a sense of the city.
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Dec 10th, 2016, 02:46 AM
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Bus to Bari/Lecce you may prefer the train.

Lecce is really about the old city which is lovely. Bari has a very small old city and is more famous for its crime novels.

Given the very busy season you are on holiday in I'd drop CT and make sure you have bookings in Tuscany and Venice asap

Are you trying for too much? Probably, I might drop the whole Dalmation coast thing and put in mor Italy. Dubrovnik will be buried in shipping and will vomit the tourists out every am.
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Dec 10th, 2016, 04:48 AM
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I agree with the others that you should drop the Croatia/Slovenia part. I know that may sound harsh but that part is really rushed and I don't get the sense that you've looked into the nitty-gritty of the logistics. And that, unfortunately, makes a huge difference in whether or not a trip is enjoyable. After 28 trips to Europe, the second thing I do after picking the general destination, is to look at the logistics, then I fill in with details.

You say "Day 5 Bus to Positano" Have you looked into that? Why a bus? If money is no object you should get a car and driver from Rome. Most of us take the train to Naples, the commuter train to Sorrento and then the bus from there to Positano.

Then you are going to take a bus from Positano to Bari and catch a ferry to Dubrovnik. Have you looked at the schedules? Can you do it in one day? And even if you can, that will be one hell of a travel day and then you only have two days in Dubrovnik. As to Leece - it is a much more beautiful, historic city and well worth a few days, but it's not a ferry port so you can't do that 'instead' of Bari.

The car rental/drop off could very well be a deal breaker. Numerous times it has been for me when trying to put together an itinerary.

I'd suggest extending your time on the AC rather than Croatia/Slovenia (both of which are wonderful, just don't really fit this itinerary). You mentioned Capri. Plus there's Amalfi, Ravello, Sorrento, Ischia, Pompeii. I have spent a week or more in that area on three different occasions and still haven't seen everything. Lots of good hiking possibilities.

And also take a second look at the Dolomites which are just as beautiful as the region in Slovenia but would be easier to get to.

Consider something like this:
After the first few days in Rome take public transportation to the Amalfi Coast for about a week.

Then rent a car and drive to Tuscany for a few days (not Florence yet), then drive to the Dolomites fora few days. You want a car in both of these locations. Then drive to Venice and drop the car. See Venice, then by train work your way back down to Padua, Florence and Rome.

Here are my photo galleries - there are galleries for all the places you are considering going (including Croatia and Slovenia).
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Dec 10th, 2016, 06:10 AM
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Odd thoughts:

- When on the Amalfi coast, you can climb to the top of Mt. Vesuvius.

- Padua makes an easy daytrip from Venice, 26 minutes by train.

- In Croatia you're missing the World Heritage Site of Plitvice, stairsteps of eerily blue lakes connected by waterfalls.

I really think you're going to have to cut part of this trip. You're giving a pretty big hunk to Trglav and Bled. Maybe you need another trip just for Croatia and Slovenia. Or do them this trip adding Venice and Rome. There are cheap flights from Rome Fiumicino to Dubrovnik.
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Dec 10th, 2016, 06:12 AM
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There are things I like about your itinerary, but there are issues already pointed out, and, although it is sometimes necessary, in general I prefer a linear rather than circular itinerary. Have you bought tickets already? If not, look at multi-city or multi-destination (not two, one-way) and give your plan more thought before booking tickets.

For example, and I have not looked at flights at all, just throwing it out for consideration, if you land in Dubrovnik, up through Croatia and Slovenia, across to Venice and down through Italy and home from Rome or Naples, it could save some travel time.

Also, for trips longer than about 4 hours, look at flights to see if they would be better.
I would certainly not take a bus and then ferry from Positano to Dubrovnik. That is awkward and very long, and not even cheap. This would be one place I would fly - if I kept your itinerary layout, which I likely would not.

A few other things.
I have traveled in July, to Italy and Spain, no less, but heat in July can be unbearable, making you move slower than you plan. You will need to plan outdoors for mornings and evenings and museums and indoor times for afternoons.

You will need more time on the Amalfi Coast (area) if you wish to see Pompeii, Herculaneum, Paestum or Naples. It will be very crowded in July in the AC. It is easier to get to Pompeii from Naples or Sorrento. The AC is a great place to chill by a pool with beautiful views or to be on the water.

Though it is really a pretty town, I do not think you need two whole days in Padova. I assume you are going mostly for Scrovegni Chapel, which you could easily do as a day trip from Venice and have time left over. It is only 25 or 30 minutes by train, not worth changing hotels, IMO.
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Dec 10th, 2016, 06:15 AM
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Vesuvius in July will be a dusty hell to climb. Maybe just your thing, but take lots of water and sun screen.
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Dec 10th, 2016, 07:06 AM
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As has been suggested above, the easiest way to save time and perhaps money is to rationalize your trans-continental flights (I'm assuming that you are coming from afar.)
Connect all the way to Dubrovnik at the start, for instance, and return home from Rome. Or, if you fly into Rome, fly home from Venice or Florence. These tickets should only be arranged through a multi-destination search function.
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Dec 10th, 2016, 11:17 AM
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Thanks, all. This is proving to be very helpful. We've bought our tickets in and out of Rome, but the rest of the itinerary is fluid. I am beginning to see the issue with the itinerary above.
The alternatives are to drop the AC, and go from Rome to Venice by train, then spend 10 days or so in the northern Balkans - Istria and Slovenia, come back to Venice, and journey on to Toscana; or to drop the Balkans altogether and do Sicily, then Venice from Naples via Assisi. Or drop everything and do Rome-Venice-Milan-Zermatt and a hike in the Swiss Alps.
It's a pity there's so much to see in Europe. Why couldn't it be all sheep farms or something....
I'd be happy to receive any more tips. Much obliged.
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Dec 10th, 2016, 11:51 AM
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@Southam - yeah, we're flying in from Sydney, so if possible wouldn't want to see the inside of a plane for a month!
@Sassafras - thanks for that tip. It's a volcano and hence exposed. I'll give it a miss. Thanks also for the Padova pointer.
@Isabel - I get your point about the Dolomites....I'm really after Triglav for its icon status (the flag of Slovenia...). Still considering possibilities
@bilbo and mimar - thanks for your inputs.
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Dec 10th, 2016, 12:20 PM
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Rome / Venice / Istria / Slovenia / Tuscany could work -- although you would have to plan carefully to fit it all in. Or Rome / Venice / Milan / Zermatt / hike could work. Sicily itself merits 2 or 3 weeks, so I don't think including it on this trip would work well.
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Dec 10th, 2016, 12:57 PM
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Well said!
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Dec 10th, 2016, 04:17 PM
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"Why couldn't it be all sheep farms or something...."

Would you want to visit if it was?
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Dec 10th, 2016, 05:21 PM
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I think it's a workable plan and since you're flying in from Australia you may as well make the most of your time as there are no cheap flights to Rome from Sydney so it's not like you can duck back when you feel like it.
You can get a direct bus from Rome to Positano. It departs from Tiburtina station at 7.00am and arrives in Positano at 11.30am. It costs just 22 euro. The service runs April thru September. You can book online.
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Dec 11th, 2016, 07:19 AM
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"I chose Triglav as you can get to the top"
There ar hundreds of Western European mountains with panoramic views and good trails up to the top.
Or what do you mean?

The highlights around Bari are Matera, Alberobello, Castellana caves, Lecce, Ostuni, Cisternino......
There are direct buses from Naples to Bari, if you go by train, you will have to change at Caserta.

There is a lot to see between Dubrovnik and Bled. 2 days aren't enough for this leg.

2 days are too much for Padova, but you may do a daytrip to Verona and Lake Garda.

As said above, you plan to see too many places. It's up to you to decide which areas you want to skip. Some proposals:

Skip Southern Italy and fly directly from Rome to Dubrovnik or Split (by train and overnight ferry, that would last almost a full day and a full night) in order to have time to spend at Split, Hvar Island, Krka Falls National Park, Plitvice National Park;

Skip Croatia and leave Lecce at 22.10 by sleeping car up to Bologna ar 7.27, have breakfast at the railway station restaurant and leave Bologna at 8.20 by regional train to Venice ar 10.18.
Venice - Bled: take a train from Venice to Gorizia Centrale (2 hrs journey), go by citybus or taxi to the Slovenian railway station (Nova Gorica) and go on by train to Bled Jezero (another 2 hrs).

Skip Croatia and Slovenia and go to the Dolomites or Aosta Valley instead.
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Dec 11th, 2016, 07:27 AM
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honestly, unless you are on your last legs [health-wise or financially] I would forget about Croatia and Slovenia and stick to Italy, especially as you are arriving and leaving from Rome.

For Italy - two ideas:

Plan A [this is if you don't mind heat]

Depending on the time of day that you arrive, I would go straight from Rome to Positano and stay there for 5 nights. This means that you can put all your days in Rome at the end which is more efficient and puts you in the right place for flying home. After that rent your car, and tour the south for a week or so before heading back to Tuscany for another week. Then return your car to Florence, [or wherever] stay there for a few days and end in Rome.

Plan B:

Go straight on the train to Venice, spend a few nights there, then rent a car and head up into the Dolomites. Then go south via Lake Garda and Padua to Florence, return the car, see Florence and then train to Rome.

The time will fly.
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Jan 28th, 2017, 03:31 PM
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Hi all - I tweaked my scheduled around a bit based on your feedback. Dropped Southern Italy altogether for this time (also based on the advice of a friend who goes there frequently, that July will be madness) on the AC.
I've retained Slovenia.
5th Jul - Land in Rome and stay overnight near Termini
6th - 8th Jul: Florence
9th - 11th Jul - Lucca including a day trip to Pisa
12th - 13th Jul - Levanto. On the 12th, we'll hike from La Spezia to Levanto on the CT
14th Jul - Train to Genoa and overnight in Genoa
15th Jul - 16th Jul - Train to Milan on the 15th from Genoa
17th Jul - 20th Jul - Venice. Train from Milan to Venice on the 17th
We may stay in Padova if Venice is too expensive.
21 - 23 Jul - Bohinj / Triglav (pick up rental car on 21st)
24 Jul - Long drive from Bohinj to Montepulciano
25 - 27 - Montepulciano
28 - Drive to Rome and return car
28 - 02 - Rome. Fly back on 02 Aug evening at 7 PM

The only place for optimisation that I see is Levanto - Genoa - Milan (might make sense to take the train straight to Milan, even though it goes via Genoa). But it's tempting to slip in another city.
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