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First time to Europe, itinerary questions.

First time to Europe, itinerary questions.

Jun 2nd, 2011, 12:41 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2011
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First time to Europe, itinerary questions.

My wife and I are planning a trip to Europe for our 3rd anniversary, and have discussed what our itinerary should be, however, this being our first trip there, we would like the input of some more versed travelers than ourselves. Currently we plan on using trains for all of our city-to-city travel.

Currently our itinerary is looking like this
In mid to late September, Fly from Atlanta to Rome departing on a Tuesday arriving early Wednesday, (Rome 3 days)
From Rome to Venice on Saturday morning, arriving in Venice before noon, (Venice 2 days)
Leaving Venice Monday morning, and arriving in Verona late morning to early afternoon (Verona 1 day)
Later that day we intend to leave for Paris on the artesia night train (double sleeper) arriving in Paris around 9:00 AM (Paris 2 days)
We will depart Paris Thursday Morning and head to Chesterfield UK, and be there for the night. (Chesterfield 1day, our only plan for Chesterfield is a day at Chatsworth house)
The next morning we will head to London, arriving around 10AM and having the day in London (London 1 day)
We will fly out of London on Saturday to return home.

So any thoughts, suggestions, or tips would be greatly appreciated... I've been doing a lot of looking around on fodors, and have really enjoyed the reading, and love the input that I have seen on all of the other topics!!
jbman is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2011, 12:55 PM
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Makes no da*n sense to travel all the way across the ocean and spend barely 2.5 days in two of the world's great cities, London and Paris, and not much time in Rome either. Plus, you lose time checking in and out of hotels and securing your stuff (especially considering you're arriving in various places in the morning and will only be able to access your rooms in the afternoon).

Evidently all your looking around on Fodors has not acquainted you with two concepts: (1) you cannot do it all on every trip; (2) if you try, you will miss a lot.

Pare down the list: London and Paris for 5 nights each is a very good trip. Rome/Venice/Florence triangle for 10 nights total is a good trip. Rome-Venice-Verona-Paris-Chesterfield-London is incoherent.
BigRuss is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2011, 12:59 PM
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The idea behind this particular trip is just as an overview pretty much, and to hit just a few of the big historical sites... we have plans for future trips to most of the places in subsequent years. Next year we plan on spending 5 days in Paris, the following year a week and a half in the UK... so this is pretty much just an introduction to Europe
jbman is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2011, 01:00 PM
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You're short changing yourselves on just about every place you're going. You won't have 3 days in Rome - perhaps 2.5; not even 1 day in London; 1.5 days in Paris.

This is going to be a blur - 6 towns that are spread far apart in only 10 days. I would skip either Paris or London. Actually, I would skip them both and just spend the time in Italy or see London and Paris and forget about Italy. Way too much moving around for a short trip.
adrienne is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2011, 01:18 PM
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I think you should rewrite your itinerary and include time from the train station to locating your hotel, time to check into your hotel, and get your stuff into your room. Then on the back end of the stay, time to regather your stuff, check out, and get back to the train station. Once you add this in, you really only have about one-day of actual sightseeing at a few of your sites. Your trip will basically be comprised of finding your hotel, packing, traveling, and unpacking. That is a lot of money to spend to see and do nothing.

So you asked for thoughts and suggestions and I think everyone will tell you to limit yourself to 2 maybe 3 moves max. Add in locating the historical sites and standing in line to access them and you won't even get a taste; maybe a whiff. If you already have plans for Paris and the UK, then just do Italy this trip.
optimistique is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2011, 01:19 PM
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oh, also add travel time from one location to the next....forgot to mention that above.
optimistique is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2011, 01:22 PM
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It's a bit hard to believe you've actually been reading Fodors and then came up with this travesty.

This isn't going to be an "introduction to Europe." Rather, it's going to be an introduction to airports and train stations and luggage hauling.

You don't have 3 days in Rome or 2 days in Venice or 1 day in Verona or 2 days in Paris. By the time you've arrived (assuming everything's on time) and gotten settled and gotten your bearings, you can lop off the better part of a day from each of those. And Chesterfield - well, let's just say that's bonkers.

Seriously, you won't remember a thing from this trip. Pare it down to two places, or at least one country (Italy) and plan to go back and visit the others on another trip.
StCirq is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2011, 01:47 PM
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With 10 days pick 2-3 places and enjoy and see them. Anymore than that and you will spend most of your time on trains, in train stations, getting to and from train stations and checking in and out of hotels instead of enjoying the sites, relaxing and taking it all and seeing the places you are visiting.

Less is more. Consider that you lose at least 1/2 day whenever you pack up and change locations - so two nights in a place gives you 1 full day and bits of 2 days that are basically transit days.

You can come back to Europe - enjoy the trip you are going to take by focusing it.
jamikins is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2011, 01:54 PM
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I completely agree with all the comments so far. But if you are determined to have a "drive by" overview trip, why not take a tour where, at least, you don't have to worry about accommodations or transportation. Here's one example:


Most people on this forum, including me, are pretty independent travelers and know that what you are proposing is truly not reasonable. Since you say you intend to return to Europe several times in the future, why not concentrate on Italy this time, or split your time between Paris and the UK?
MaineGG is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2011, 01:59 PM
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Lots of good advice above. You will see little and move constantly, thus probably not appreciating any of your planned stops.

You say you are going to Paris for 5 days next year and to the UK for a week and a half the following year. So stick to 3 stops in Italy for this year. You don't need an "overview", just spend a little more time and have a memorable trip. How about 5 days in Rome, 2 in Verona and 3 in Venice. Get an open jaw flight into Rome and out of Venice or vice versa. Save yourself all the transit time!
mamcalice is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2011, 02:08 PM
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I've been to Chatsworth, and it's nice, but is there a specific reason you're including it on this trip? The Pride & Prejudice connection? It wouldn't be near the top of most people's lists for a first trip to Europe (even if you spent your whole time in the UK, it'd be a "maybe" for me). It's also not super straightforward to get to via public transit, though it can be done using a bus and walking.

Actually I'm trying to figure out how you plan to get from Paris, to London, to Chatsworth, and still have time to see the house. Now I'm curious!

I LOVE London. It is one of my favorite cities. But for one day, it's hardly worth it. Sticking to Rome, Venice and Paris - taking out the day in Verona - would be easier and still a very full trip.
jent103 is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2011, 02:33 PM
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I think you need to explore in much more minute detail the logistics of traveling from place to place--takes MUUUCCCCHHH longer than it looks like you are figuring. For example, I really don't see how you can get from Paris to London to Chesterfield and then find a bus (which doesn't run frequently) and then walk to Chatsworth and then have any time to spend there--and then there's the matter of infrequent buses to leave and get back to Chesterfield. Chatsworth was a priority for me in 2008; we did it as a day trip starting very early from London, but it was a very stressful day depending on public transport. It was way worth it, BUT starting from Paris? no way.

I'm all for busy itineraries and think that little tastes of lots of places is ok sometimes, but I don't think you are being realistic in the time and convolutions needed for all this travel.

I'd pick only 2-3 places--or double your time! I LOVE London and think it's a great place to start a trip. Enjoy your planning but pare back!
texasbookworm is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2011, 03:19 PM
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You probably don't want to hear any more negativity, but oh well...

I do get your point about this trip being an "overview" but as the others here have said, there is no need. You've already planned to go to Europe again next year. If you use this trip as an overview, you'll shortchange the whole experience.

Read some more books and websites and really figure out what's important for THIS trip.

Be kind to yourselves (and make it to your 4th anniversary!). Re-think this trip. I'd personally stay in Italy and choose 3 cities there. I suppose if you were really insistent you could add Paris but then choose only two cities in Italy. Forget London under any circumstance on this trip.

I am a huge fan of trains and public transportation but it does take more creativity and time to plan a coherent, enjoyable trip.

I did enjoy Chatsworth House very much but certainly wouldn't be my first choice on my first trip to England.
soogies is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2011, 06:49 PM
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Can only agree with the above posts. You have planned a very comprehensive of the train stations and airports of europe. If you actually figure out how long each thing ou want to do will take you'll see it;s simply not an option.

You're not driving short distances, parking next to a sight and leaving luggage in the car while you run in for an hour. You are traveling from country to country, hauling luggage behind you through unfamiliar train stations and airports, dealing with weather or other delays, some sight closing hours that are limited - and doing it all in places that are totally different than what you are used to.

I agree to do either London/Paris or Italy - but it's your money - and your funeral.

You should know that when asked experienced travelers say the mistake they made at first was trying to cover too much ground in too little time.

(And I don't think there's any way you would actually get to see Chatsworth. Have you sat down with the actual transit schedules and opening hours for Chatswoth. And then you have about /2 of a day in London.

nytraveler is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2011, 07:39 PM
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All the folks who have posted here aren't trying to be mean. They ARE all experienced Europe travelers, so they know what they are talking about. So don't be let down.

Because you say you are going back in subsequent years, don't short-change yourself on this trip. Spend the time in Italy and really enjoy it, and then next year really enjoy England and then really enjoy Paris.
charnees is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2011, 04:01 AM
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I really do appreciate all the input! It's great to have so many suggestions, and all of your experience is greatly beneficial.

We will definitely look at toning it down a little bit so that we have the time to experience the places more than the travel to the places

And Jent103, you're right about the P&P connection, my wife is a Jane Austin fan and loves anything to do with her books/life, and she's already been to London, so perhaps I can talk her out of wanting to go all the way up there on this particular trip, and save it for the future, all UK one that we have planned.
jbman is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2011, 04:49 AM
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OK, with all of these replies I've tinkered a bit, would this new one sound feasible?

Arrive in Rome Tuesday morning
Rome Tues - Fri (3.5 days)
Florence Sat-Mon (2.5 days)
Venice Tues - Sat (4.5 days) Venice Will include a day trip to Verona but all our stuff will remain in the Venice hotel as we will return there for the night.
jbman is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2011, 05:23 AM
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Much, much better. In fact, pretty good. If you haven't purchased you airline tickets yet, you may want to explore flying into Venice and out of Rome. The airline departures to the US from Venice are very early in the morning so it's easier to depart from Rome.
mamcalice is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2011, 05:26 AM
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Looks very good. If you like frescoes you might want to take a half day to see the Giotto frescoes in Padua. Must book ahead.
adrienne is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2011, 06:48 AM
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Looks good to me. I'd swap one of the Venice days for a day in Rome, but that's my opinion. There's so much to do in Rome, and if you stick with that order, you'll be really jet lagged that first half day (I just took the Delta Atlanta-FCO flight - if you're planning to take the same one, it leaves and arrives so early that I couldn't get much sleep at all). But as I said, that's just my opinion. There are a lot of people who could spend weeks in Venice!

For your future UK trip, Jane Austen's house is near Winchester and is definitely worth a visit for your wife. I'm sure she'll want to see Bath too!
jent103 is offline  

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