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First Europe Trip - Need help with the Itinerary

First Europe Trip - Need help with the Itinerary

May 19th, 2019, 05:52 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: May 2019
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First Europe Trip - Need help with the Itinerary

Hi Everyone,
My husband and I are planning our 1st trip to Europe next year (mid Feb to mid March). It is something we have been really looking forward to for a long long time and I know we cannot see and do everything at once (i.e.in principle). But even then we are having such a hard time shortlisting the places.

So, here is how our itinerary stands at the moment, our flights to Munich and from Brussels have already been booked so that is one thing that I cannot change.

Fly in to Munich on 15th Feb early morning
1. Munich (2 nights)
2. Garmisch-Partenkirchen (2 nights)
3. Salzburg (2 nights)
4. Vienna (2 nights)
5. Budapest (4 nights)
6. Krakow/ Wroclaw (3 nights)
7. Prague (4 nights)
8. Dresden/ Cesky Krumlow- 1 night?
9. Berlin (3 nights)
10. Amsterdam (3 nights)
11. Bruges/ Ghent (3 nights)
Fly out of Brussels on the 14th of March afternoon

I know we are trying to do too much but believe me I have already removed so many places, this list used to be much much longer. And I would appreciate any help/ suggestions to make this itinerary better.

PS: As people we enjoy nature, history, architecture, food (and obviously beer), though we are not too much into the museum scene. We will be taking public transport to travel amidst these places, I am open to changing the itinerary around a little but I thought it was time to get some experienced people to weigh in on it.

Thank you in advance.
swatisumit is offline  
May 19th, 2019, 06:30 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
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Sorry - and I know you've cut some already -- but that is a really difficult plan. You will be traveling in heavy winter and one snow storm could ruin everything. You are spending almost as much time traveling/checking in/checking out as you are in any of those destinations. Eleven destinations in one month!

After factoring travel logistics, what you'd end up with is:

1. Munich 1 day plus a few jet lagged hours on arrival.
2. Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1 day + a few hours
3. Salzburg 1 day + a few hours
4. Vienna 1 day + a few hours
5. Budapest 3 days
6. Krakow/ Wroclaw 2 days
7. Prague 3 days
8. Dresden/ Cesky Krumlow- half a day
9. Berlin 2 days
10. Amsterdam 2 days
11. Bruges/ Ghent2 days . . . and total exhaustions at the end

I'd sit down and see where you can cut some more.
janisj is online now  
May 19th, 2019, 06:55 PM
  #3  
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Join Date: May 2019
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Thank you janisj, I completely agree with you, and that is the entire reason behind this post.

Would you have any suggestions as to which destination(/s) could probably be skipped (probably filed for some other future trip).
swatisumit is offline  
May 19th, 2019, 07:21 PM
  #4  
 
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Posts: 197
Originally Posted by swatisumit View Post
Would you have any suggestions as to which destination(/s) could probably be skipped (probably filed for some other future trip).
Only you can truly make these decisions. What draws you to each destination...and in the middle of winter?? You mention you prefer nature to museums...but for the most part, chose cities where you're options would be indoors and likely heavy on museums! (To me, most castles and other historical sites are also museum-like in nature). But I suppose you meant art museums?

Most of your itinerary does not lend itself to seeing nature. Your travel between cities would have you seeing snow-covered ground as opposed to nature. But, that may be your preference. I'm from NorCal...where it barely dips below 45 even in winter, so I understand our tastes might be different! I traveled to Prague one January and was miserable!

Last edited by Travel_Nerd; May 19th, 2019 at 07:29 PM.
Travel_Nerd is offline  
May 19th, 2019, 08:24 PM
  #5  
 
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Back: Travel_Nerd makes some good points. I personally would not have planned this specific trip at that time of year if natural beauty was a priorty. But since your flights are booked that is water under the bridge.

Having said that - I did take a river cruise in Germany over last Christmas so did do a wintry trip in that general part of the world. Being that time of year - it IS going to be a city centric trip. You'll just have to accept that. Could be snowy, definitely will be damp - will be COLD. I was extraordinarily lucky on my cruise that is was cold (very) but dry for the most part. Unless you plan on skiing and winter sports -- you will be in cities.

So -- if it is going to be cities and Munich and Belgium are musts due to flights - I'd probably do something like Munich with a day trip to Garmisch. Vienna or Salzburg, Budapest, Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, Ghent with a day trip to Bruges or vice versa. You can do day trips out of any of those destinations.
janisj is online now  
May 19th, 2019, 08:25 PM
  #6  
 
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. . . And that would still be a lot of moving around . . .
janisj is online now  
May 19th, 2019, 08:38 PM
  #7  
 
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Just noticed you are brand new to Fodors -- welcome aboard

But that does limit how often you can post for the next few days . . . I'd use this time 'off line' to check a few guide books for info about late winter travel in these cities - activities, festivals, music, that sort of thing
janisj is online now  
May 20th, 2019, 02:38 AM
  #8  
 
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With tickets already bought, you're just going to have to make the best of what I see as a difficult situation. Generalizations are hard to make, and often unfair, but February is arguably the worst month of the year in Europe (even where we live, which is way south of where you want to go); it's the month everyone gets on a plane and goes to where it's warmer. Or, it's the month for mountains and winter sports. Days are short (our sunset way south here is around 4:30 pm), it's cold and wet, and it's dreary.

Your stated interests are going to be hard to satisfy - natural beauty doesn't abound where you're traveling, especially if seen from public transportation, and of course it's hard to find in cities. Museums, which don't excite you, are at least places to get warm and have a cup of coffee. But overall I just have a hard time imagining this to be a pleasant trip.

If it were me, and of course it's not, I'd fly into Munich and immediately hop on a Vueling or other budget airline and head for Spain or Portugal or Greece or Morocco or southern Italy or somewhere else warm and re-arrange the trip. Radical, I know, but you could do worse than to overhaul this plan completely. That's one great thing about budget airlines in Europe.

You can always get back to Brussels.
StCirq is offline  
May 20th, 2019, 04:31 AM
  #9  
 
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In Southern Europe (Greece, Southern Italy, Andalucia) weather would be much nicer in February/March.
But I suppose you have your reasons for the visit of the big Northern capitals you chose.
neckervd is offline  
May 20th, 2019, 05:56 AM
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I was thinking the same as StCirq. Not sure about Greece, the islands will probably be shut down and the mainland will be cold. Likely a good time for the south of Spain, which is way hot in summer. Maybe Sicily, although it's still a bit early. Nice might be OK. Or you could consider Venice - the weather won't be great, but it will less crowded than usual - except around Carnival.

Otherwise you're going to either opt for winter sports or cities, and be prepared to come up with a Plan B if the weather messes up your transport.
thursdaysd is offline  
May 20th, 2019, 06:05 AM
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Southern Spain/Portugal/ Southern Italy and Morocco are the obvious places to go (well it is where I go).

If you go to your list you will need warm waterproof boots, a big jacket and a few layers underneath, probably ear covering hat as well. Boots need to be able to make a grip on snow or ice.
bilboburgler is offline  
May 20th, 2019, 10:00 PM
  #12  
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Thank you everyone, I really appreciate the time you all took out to give your input. I will try to respond to everyone in this post (as I am only allowed 2 in a 24 hour period) but this might turn out to be one long reply…

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Hi Travel_Nerd, thank you for your input. Due to work and family commitments Mid-Feb to Mid-March happens to be the only time in the near future that we were able to take off for a month long vacation. And we have been putting this off for a long time, I didn’t want to put it off longer.
I actually happen to love winter, though my idea of winter may be very removed from the actual reality of an European winter (coming from the sunny down under). We of course have our fingers crossed that it isn’t too rainy that it puts a damper on all our plans. We do enjoy nature, but as you said it is winter, that is why we have limited the itinerary to cities. We also happen to enjoy history and architecture that a lot of these cities offer an abundance of. What I meant by not in to the museum scene was, we probably are not people who would spend hours perusing different paintings inside a museum (unless of course it is raining outside and we have nothing else to do).

------------------------------------------------------------------
Thank you jainisj, I actually just came across this forum a few days ago and thought to take advantage of the cumulative experience onboard. I really appreciate the time you took out to reply on our extremely vague and over the top itinerary. Following your suggestions, I have made a few changes to the itinerary:

Fly in to Munich on 15th Feb early morning
1. Munich (3 nights) - Day trip to GP (Zugspitze)/ Fussen (Neuchwenistan Castle) depending on the weather
2. Salzburg (3 nights)
3. Budapest (4 nights)
4. Krakow (3 nights)
5. Prague (4 nights) – maybe stop for a few hours in Dresden on the way to Berlin
6. Berlin (4 nights)
7. Amsterdam (4 nights)
8. Bruges (3 nights) – Day trip to Ghent
Fly out of Brussels on the 14th of March afternoon

Please do let me know what you think it is better..
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Thank you StCirq, thursdaysd, neckervd and bilboburgler for your valuable suggestions.

What I have gathered from all of your comments is that maybe we haven’t chosen the most pleasant month to be in Europe, nor the right places to be in winter. I will seriously have a look at your suggested places to check the transport options and distances to see if I can swap a few places in the itinerary. As StCirq said our tickets are booked and we want to make the best of the time we will have there.

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We live in Perth, one of the most isolated and sunniest cities in the world. To be completely honest, escaping the scorching Australian summer to go experience European winter sounded great and the prospect of seeing snow magical. On long weekends, we regularly drive 400+kms one way to get to the slightly cooler southern towns. I think just the prospect of reaching another country travelling the same distance made us think that we could probably cram more than ideal number of destinations into our month long trip.
swatisumit is offline  
May 21st, 2019, 08:10 AM
  #13  
 
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Originally Posted by swatisumit View Post
as I am only allowed 2 in a 24 hour period)
If I understand correctly, this only applies to the first 24 hours. Your restriction to 2 posts, I believe, should be lifted at this point.

Interesting that you seek out colder areas. I'm from the second-sunniest city in the US, and sometimes one of the hottest as well (120F in July) and I relish the heat and sun. Obviously to each one's own!

I'm not sure how cooler the towns are that you seek out in your local travels vs. how they compare to Europe but you may be in for quite a shock.

But you know what you're getting into, so more power to you!

The advantage to this plan is you likely won't be jostling for position amongst tourists. So you should have maximum advantage over your time in each destination - which will be good considering the shorter days.

Itinerary notes: Unless you really want a slower pace, in my personal experience, Salzburg *could* be a day trip from Munich. But it may not be depending on what you are planning to see while there and how "fast" you like to travel. Some others on this board may disagree with me. I may have more thoughts later.

One thing to do at you research is to plot out opening/closing times on a calendar of each site or landmark as you plan. Identify your top priorities in each city. This will help you determine how many days you will need in each city.

At others mentioned, keep in mind that your time in transit plus checking in/out of accommodations will eat into the time of each destination.

Travel_Nerd is offline  
May 21st, 2019, 08:18 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
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>>If I understand correctly, this only applies to the first 24 hours. Your restriction to 2 posts, I believe, should be lifted at this point.<<

Not AFAIK -- the limitation lasts until the new member has a certain 'posting history'. I believe that is 5 or 6 posts -- so @ 2-ish posts a day that would take at least 3 days.
janisj is online now  
May 21st, 2019, 08:23 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
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I stand corrected. Thanks janis!
Travel_Nerd is offline  
May 21st, 2019, 04:02 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,322
for lots on trains and how to save money on tickets check www.seat61.com; BETS-European Rail Experts and www.ricksteves.com. For example trains to Salzburg and all of Bavaria can unlimited use for a day of regional trains (only) for a pittance of about 30 euros for 1 to several people all told. You may also consider a Eurail Pass with that many train trips and you can just shop on most trains in those countries at will.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 4th, 2019, 09:48 PM
  #17  
 
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I'm not a travel expert, but will throw in my thoughts given I just did my first trip to Europe last October for 19 days. That is an insane schedule. And I only did three destinations - Budapest, Prague, and Berlin, and bookended my trip with one day stopovers in Iceland each way. I probably could have squeezed in another city like Vienna or Krakow, but I was pleased with the slower pace and getting time to enjoy each place. But I, like you, was tempted to cram a lot in and I'm glad I didn't. I would have been utterly exhausted. You'll get more from less in this case.

As much as it pains me to say this, I'd leave out Krakow and save it for another trip (you will be back!). Logistically, it doesn't fit with the rest of your itinerary, and it's just not as easy to get to - limited flights there or a long train ride from any other city on your itinerary. Unless you're planning on doing some skiing or into winter sports, I'd consider dropping Garmisch-Partenkirchen. And I wouldn't even bother with Cesky Krumlov. Maybe do Dresden if you're stopping over on the train between Prague and Berlin. As someone else already pointed out, one day of bad weather on a travel day could really mess up your plans. I'd take that extra time and add to Vienna, Berlin, and Amsterdam, and perhaps some extra days in Munich - you could do day trips from there. That way you have time to enjoy yourself for a few days after you arrive before racing to the next place. Less travel, less hassle, and less stress on your trip equals more enjoyment. Happy travels!

Last edited by jeverett; Jun 4th, 2019 at 10:25 PM.
jeverett is offline  
Jun 5th, 2019, 09:06 AM
  #18  
 
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Well the new itinerary is looking a little more reasonable than the 1st one! So congrats on those changes. I still think it's an awful lot of moving around.

Maybe at this point take each of those 8 cities and make a list of what it is you want to see and do there, that is available in winter-time? I'd try to find at least two more cities (whichever are the least personal interest or the furthest geographically off a logical travel path) and eliminate those. Even when you have 4 days, which might sound generous, you still need to subtract the half or even full day it takes each time you move cities. Time that cost money and may or may not be particularly interesting (by train, by air, whatever).
suze is offline  
Jun 5th, 2019, 09:02 PM
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A day in Brugge is really enough. Why should you want to stay there for 3 nights with "a day trip to Gent"?

I'd stay 3 nights in Gent, and do Brugge as a daytrip. Brugge is very small.
menachem is offline  
Jun 5th, 2019, 09:51 PM
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>>A day in Brugge is really enough. Why should you want to stay there for 3 nights with "a day trip to Gent"?

I'd stay 3 nights in Gent, and do Brugge as a daytrip. Brugge is very small.<<

But the problem with that is the worst time in Brugge is in the middle of the day with all the day trippers. Burgge is terrific when the coach tour have left in the afternoon.

Maybe one night in Brugge and 2 in Gent -- or vice versa.
janisj is online now  

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