First time traveler to Europe

Old Dec 13th, 2018, 11:15 PM
  #1  
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First time traveler to Europe

Hi! I'm traveling to Europe in May next year. I'm planning to visit Italy, Switzerland, Germany and France for 20days. Italy is a must country for me since I'll be attending a wedding in Florence. I'm also thinking of visiting Rome, Pisa, Venice during my 5-6 day stay.

For Switzerland, I'm not yet sure which places to visit but I've read that it's expensive to travel there so I'm thinking of staying for 2 nights only. Any suggestions for a first-time budget traveler? Same with Germany? Maybe for a 2-3 day stay?

My departure point going back to my country is Paris. Apart from the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and about 1 or 2 more tourist spots, I'd prefer exploring the countryside and places that are not that much frequented by tourists. Any suggestions for a 5day stay?

I set aside 5days for traveling from one country to another.

I'd also appreciate if there's another route you can suggest. I just really have to visit Italy.

Thank you!
queen08 is offline  
Old Dec 14th, 2018, 12:01 AM
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How many nights are you staying in Europe?
I suspect you don't have time to do what you were thinking. However, the way you stated does not give us good idea of just how much time you have. Stating time in terms of days ends up allocating the same day to two different locations.
>>> I'm planning to visit Italy, Switzerland, Germany and France for 20days
How many nights in Europe?
It can mean 20 full days = 21 nights
20 x 24 hours = 20 nights
20 days in Europe counting arrival and departure days = 19 nights
20 days as vacation time with over night flight = 18 nights, etc
>>> I'm also thinking of visiting Rome, Pisa, Venice during my 5-6 day stay.
Same question. How many nights is this?
greg is offline  
Old Dec 14th, 2018, 12:08 AM
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Let me be the first to politely suggest that you consult guide books and search this forum for trip reports as well as responses to similar questions. Others will follow, and not all the responses will be kind and gentle.

As a first time budget traveler to Europe, skip Switzerland. Also, the more you move around, the more expensive the holiday becomes (not to mention more lost time on the logistics of moving around). Perhaps just focus on Italy and Paris; with 20 days (or 18? if this includes your arrival/departure days) you can put together a nice itinerary.
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Old Dec 14th, 2018, 12:10 AM
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Regardless of how many nights 5-6 days is for Italy, you have too many destinations, ESPECIALLY if you are including a wedding in that time.

similarily, 2-3 days for Germany—which is a country—seems crazy to me. (It’s one of the cheaper countries too: maybe skip Switzerland entirely and add on to Germany.)

I think you need to step back and consider what you really want to see. Get some guidebooks. Make a priority list. You really could spend all 20 days just in Italy.

But I’d split half your time between Italy and the other half in France, if you really want to see France.
marvelousmouse is online now  
Old Dec 14th, 2018, 12:15 AM
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Yes, your post needs to clarify the total number of nights you have in Europe, and what you mean when you say you have set aside 5 days for traveling - is that different from the total days you have counted?. But just to start, if you have 5-6 days in Italy you can't possibly do justice to Florence, Rome, Venice, and Pisa.

How do you plan to travel? You can certainly get yourself from Italy to Switzerland and Germany and France by train, but if you are serious about getting out into the French countryside to places that aren't frequented by tourists, you'd need a car, because everywhere a train goes, so go the tourists. You can of course get out into beautiful countryside nonetheless.
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Old Dec 14th, 2018, 01:54 AM
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If you want to tick boxes and 'see' a lot of different countries, go to Belgium - Brussels - and hire a car : you can do 4 countries in one day : Start in Belgium, go to Aachen, Germany, drive into Netherlands, go down to Grand Duché de Luxembourg filll the tank there, go to France and back to Belgium. Makes 5 countries.
Then select one - two countries : like France and Italy or Italy and Germany.
Paris only is worth 4-5 days.
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Old Dec 14th, 2018, 10:09 AM
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queen08
People are touchy here when someone gets excited and tries to see too much. The responses to this point have been surprisingly kind. Don't be offended if others are less kind.

I'd grab a map and create a very rough schedule and then start putting down cities on each of the days you'll be there. Factor in travel time as well. Here's an example that may have you moving more than you'd want, but would be a trip I'd enjoy. As stated above the more you move, the more you spend:
1 fly east
2 arrive, sleepily tour Rome
3 Rome
4 Rome
5 Rome/train to Florence
6 Florence
7 Florence/wedding
8 train to Venice/tour Venice
9 Venice
10 train to Salzburg/tour Salzburg
11 Salzburg
12 Salzburg
13 train to Lauterbrunnen valley/tour L. valley
14 Lauterbrunnen valley
15 Lauterbrunnen valley
16 train to Paris/tour Paris
17 Paris/countryside
18 Paris/countryside
19 Paris/countryside
20 fly home

Add in days in favorite cities if I've misunderstood what "20 days" meant to you. Obviously your taste might dictate changing cities above, but it's an idea of how an itinerary could look.

Enjoy the planning, it's half the fun for me.
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Old Dec 14th, 2018, 11:00 AM
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I'm planning to visit Italy, Switzerland, Germany and France for 20 days. I set aside 5 days for traveling from one country to another

So 15 days to work with 'on the ground', my suggestion would be something like this:
1 day - arrival
3 days - Florence sightseeing and wedding
3 days - Rome
1 day - Pisa
2 days - Venice
0 - Skip Switzerland
0 - Skip Germany
3 days - France exploring the countryside and places that are not that much frequented by tourists
2 days - Paris
= 15 days
suze is offline  
Old Dec 14th, 2018, 11:16 AM
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We don’t know what the OP likes but Switzerland would be the last place I’d drop. Stay in a hostel in Interlaken. Take the short train ride to Lauterbrunnen. Unforgettable (IMO).
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Old Dec 14th, 2018, 11:23 AM
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I like Wekiva's itinerary but I'd axe Salzburg as it is an outlier and add days in Eastern France like Burgundy - base in a small wine town like Beauns and take trains or ride a bike along the Burgundy Wine road and stay in Paris itself about three days and do day trips, etc. Anyway trains are great and go everywhere you want - www.seat61.com is a font of great info on booking your own train tickets, at a discount if book early enough - check out a Eurail Select Pass too - general train info: BETS-European Rail Experts and www.ricksteves.com.
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Old Dec 14th, 2018, 11:54 AM
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i am crazy about Switzerland myself but I don't see how it fits here. Since Italy is the "must country" and they are flying out of Paris, not sure where it would fit in without cutting time from either France or Italy??
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Old Dec 14th, 2018, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by suze View Post
i am crazy about Switzerland myself but I don't see how it fits here. Since Italy is the "must country" and they are flying out of Paris, not sure where it would fit in without cutting time from either France or Italy??

I think they’re looking at trains. I considered stopping in Switzerland only because of it being relatively easy to reach between Germany and Italy. So it fits, I’m just not sure they have time.

personally, I’m crazy about Italy, and I think they’re really underestimating everything there is to see there.
marvelousmouse is online now  
Old Dec 14th, 2018, 12:37 PM
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I did a 3 week trip once - flew in to Geneva, trained out to Lac Leman area for Switzerland, train to Venice, then train to Paris, flew home from Paris. Fantastic trip! But that was only 3 places in the same amount of time these folks are trying to see at least 8+ places/regions/cities/countries.
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Old Dec 14th, 2018, 01:54 PM
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Italy for 10 days
Switzerland for 4 days
France for 7 days

a day of travel in between each - that to me seems very very realistic and yes the Jungfrau Region is so so wonderful and neatly fits in a Venice-Switzerland-Eastern France - Burgundy or Alsace for countryside then Paris where OP does not care to spend a lot of time.

Seems very possible.
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Old Dec 15th, 2018, 10:52 AM
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You could easily spend 2 weeks or more in the northern half of Italy (without having time for all so called "must-see places").
Count 4 days for Rome, at least 2 full days each for Florence and Venice, half a day for Pisa, a full day for travel between these places and. probably a full day for the wedding. That gives about 11 days. As you will have to travel to Paris, you may add some gems along the itinerary, like Genoa, Turin, Aosta, Chamonix Mont Blanc, Lyon, Tournus, Beaune, Dijon and the 3 weeks will be over.
There is absolutely no time for Switzerland or Germany.
A stay of only 1 or 2 days in each of these countries woudl be ridiculous anyway.
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Old Dec 17th, 2018, 05:30 PM
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If I understand you correctly, you will have 15 days not traveling and 5 days traveling. That "wastes" 25% of your time. I suggest four cities with three travel days: (My designation for Florence may not be correct, since I don't think you told us which city you are flying into:

1 - Arrival Rome (jet-lagged day)
2-5 - Rome with a day trip to Ostia Antica
6 - Train to Florence (takes about 4 hrs with packing, transfers & unpacking)
7 - Florence Wedding
8-9 - Florence
10 - Train to Venice (takes about 6 hours with packing, transfers & unpacking)
11-13 - Venice
14 - Go to Paris
If plane, takes an early plane gets you there before lunch
If day train, takes the whole day
If night train, you'll have most of the day there
15-20 - Paris with a day trip - there are many options. (Believe me, that's not too much time there.)

These, of course, are based on my likes, and the Italian cities are near each other with short transport times. I'm not really familiar with Germany or Switzerland, so you can substitute. My main point is that less is usually more, because you waste less time moving between destinations.

It may seem that I gave long times for the train trips, but as a tourist unfamiliar with the station, city and language, you have to leave for the station well before the train departs, and allow a good amount of time to get to your new lodging and check in and unpack. The Rome-Florence train takes 1:40 or so, but I'd estimate an hour on either side.

ssander

Last edited by ssander; Dec 17th, 2018 at 05:36 PM.
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Old Dec 17th, 2018, 06:03 PM
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Queen- I can't argue about all the places you want to visit However I think you must delete about 50% of your desired destinations. As has been said, travel takes far longer than you think. I've been to all of your destinations, and each (except Pisa) has a lot to offer. The normal places in Rome ,eg- Vatican and surrounds will take more than a day. BTW. book your tickets/tours in advance. Will save a lot of time. If you like art, consider Florence. Some of the surrounding Tuscan towns are beautiful. Everyone needs to visit Venice, but beware it is crowded and very expensive. Might do this on another trip. If you delete Pisa and Venice (and perhaps Switzerland). you might be able to see the others. Get a tour book so you will know exactly where you want to go, and how to but tickets. For instance, the first time I went to the Prado in Madrid, I spent almost a day, mostly waiting in line. Next time I hired an inexpensive guide who moved me from one highlight to another in a few hours. Let us know if you have any specific questions about locations. I suspect that about everyone on here has far more experience than me. However I don't want you to make the same mistakes I made on my first trip.
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Old Dec 17th, 2018, 07:14 PM
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>>If I understand you correctly, you will have 15 days not traveling and 5 days traveling . . .<<. I can't see how any of can understand exactly what the OP has, and since she has never returned we are all assuming/supposing. I suggest we sit back and wait til after/if she comes back to clarify. Otherwise we're really just talking to each other.
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Old Dec 18th, 2018, 01:40 AM
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It may also be helpful if OP gave an estimate on what is supposed to mean to travel on a (tight?) budget.
Aside from being beautiful, interesting or amazing, Venice, Switzerland and Paris would not be my first choices if I had to travel with little money to throw around.
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Old Dec 18th, 2018, 04:26 AM
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I can't offer anything, I don't understand the question.

I'd like to know what the OP is interested in, for instance if it is non-touristy places then France/Italy/Switzerland kinda of misses the mark. However I know a lovely valley in the Jura (north of Geneva) that not many people go to.
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