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First trip itinerary- 1.5 months

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Apr 3rd, 2015, 06:55 PM
  #1
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First trip itinerary- 1.5 months

My sister and I are planning a trip to Europe for next summer after we graduate college so we will be 22. We have done a bit of research but we want your opinion on the number of days allocated to each city and your opinion on the city itself [i.e. sights to see, nightlife, day trips, etc.] So this is what we've planned:
Fly into London [5 days]
Amsterdam [3 days]
Split, Croatia [3 days????]
Dubrovnik, Croatia [3 days????]
Athens [5 days]
Greek Island (Ios, Naxos, or Paros) [3 days]
Rome [6 days]
Day trip to Pisa [1 day]
Florence [3 days]
Barcelona [5 days]
Paris [6 days]
Day trip to Versailles [1 day]
Back to London to fly home
This itinerary doesn't include travel, the ones listed are full days that we will spend in each city. We really want your opinions on the cities in Croatia and Amsterdam...we have family in Croatia and have heard it's beautiful, but we aren't sure about allocating 3 days to two different cities there. Also, we have researched transportation between each city and have found that flights are mostly cheaper so hopefully that will help to cut down on travel time (compared to trains, buses, etc.). We are definitely open to suggestions, but we are 100% going to see Paris, Rome, London, and Athens no matter what. Thanks for the help!!!
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Apr 3rd, 2015, 07:13 PM
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Nice itinerary - you've done some homework.

One thing about transport, flights seem to take less time, but airports are usually outside of cities and transport time and costs have to figure in the cost to and from the airport (which can sometimes be more than the plane tickets!) Trains are often more convenient as they go from city center to city center. But research the locations you are visiting to help you decide what works bets.

In any case, figure than getting from one place to another (checking out of lodgings in one place until checking in at the next) will take up half a day to most of a day - that's why it is so important to account for travel time.
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Apr 3rd, 2015, 07:26 PM
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Sounds like a great trip!
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Apr 3rd, 2015, 09:38 PM
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"This itinerary doesn't include travel, the ones listed are full days that we will spend in each city."

And yet, the days listed total 44 which is 1.5 months. Do you have an additional 4-5 (or more) days for transit between points? If not, I'd give serious thought to dropping Barcelona.

I'll take your word for it that flights are mostly cheaper than trains, but as Kathie points out the airfare does not include all travel costs you'd incur. Besides buses and/or taxis to/from airports, make sure you include baggage fees to your calculations.
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Apr 3rd, 2015, 11:01 PM
  #5
kja
 
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Should be a great trip!

Re: Croatia --
"Split, Croatia [3 days????]
Dubrovnik, Croatia [3 days????]"

Your timing there REALLY depends on what you want to see and experience.

FWIW, the Plitvice Lakes National Park is, IMO, the single most un-missable of Croatia's many splendors. Not only are the lakes connected by travertine waterfall formations, but what's more, each lake has unique microbiota, and as a result, the lakes are different colors. The best way to see that is to make a single, long loop through the park -- something on the order of 6 hours or more (including time for the boat that connects the lower and upper lakes) -- so many people spend a night there (the night before visiting the park). There are buses from Split to the park and back. Just something to consider....

Much as I loved Dubrovnik, 3 days there would have been at least one day too much for me. You might look into options to spend a night in charming Korcula between Split and Dubrovnik. Or you might consider options for spending a night in Mostar between those 2 cities. Or curtailing your time in Dubrovnik by 1 day and 1 night could be your way to make time for the Plitvice Lakes....

I loved Split -- I found it dynamic and vibrant and VERY different than Dubrovnik. You might consider taking a day trip from Split to Trogir -- its just a 1/2 hour bus away, and the buses run frequently.


Just a couple of other comments:

Do you already have your flights? If not, try to fly "open jaw" = into one city, out of another. The costs are often similar, but you save the time and cost of getting back to your starting point -- and both the time and costs can be substantial. If you are not able to do open jaw, you'll want to be in your departure city the night before your flight, so try to put all of your time in that city at the END of your trip so you only have to deal with getting into/out of the city once and so you can eliminate one hotel. (You might be tired when you arrive, but you'll be tired under any scenario!) So if you are committed to flying into and out of London, consider options to go straight from London to Amsterdam (I don't know what the options are or how feasible they might be) and if you can, then shift your time in London to the end.

"we have researched transportation between each city and have found that flights are mostly cheaper so hopefully that will help to cut down on travel time (compared to trains, buses, etc.)"

BUT remember that airports are often outside of cities, and that you need to not only get to them (and pay to get to them), but get to them further in advance of your departure time than trains or buses (for which you can often arrive just minutes in advance -- not that I recommend testing it!) Flights aren't always the time-savers they seem to be....

Should be an awesome trip! Kudos for such a well-considered initial itinerary for a first trip to magnificent Europe!
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Apr 4th, 2015, 04:15 AM
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There are non-stop flights from Pisa to Barcelona, so you might check to see if there is one leaving in the evening that would enable you to visit Pisa during the day (stow your luggage in the train station) and then fly out much later in the day.

If that doesn't work for you, then you could also consider taking the train from Rome to Pisa, and stopping in Pisa to see the sights before continuing on to Florence the same day. You can fly non-stop to Barcelona from Florence.
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Apr 4th, 2015, 04:27 AM
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PS: I noticed several people mentioning the distance of airports from cities, but in many of the cities to which you are going, airports are close-in and cost of getting there is not exorbitant.
It takes 30 minutes or less to get to the airports of Amsterdam, Rome, Pisa, Florence, Barcelona, and Paris if you fly to Orly.

What does take added time is passing through security or collecting luggage, especially in summertime.

However, there is no way to include Greece in the trip cheaply and comfortably unless you fly. Traveling from Pisa to Barcelona by train takes close to 24 hours, and is quite uncomfortable. Even if you cut Barcelona, a train trip from central Italy to Paris is very time consuming (getting to the airport from Florence or Pisa is very simple and even a taxi issn't expensive when split between 2 people).

I wouldn't convert the trip into a trains-only trip at the expense of not going to places to really want to visit. Pack light for the budget airlines.
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Apr 4th, 2015, 04:30 AM
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I agree that three days in Dubrovnik would have been too many for me. It's a pretty town, but not very big, and there's not a tremendous amount to see or do there.

A day trip to Pisa would be much easier from Florence than from Rome. However, you could actually stop over there on your way to Florence. Take one of the direct trains from Rome to Pisa; they're not fast trains, but you can get there early enough to see the tower and some of the other monuments in the vicinity. Leave your luggage at the left luggage facility in Pisa Centrale station. I highly recommend the Camposanto (monumental cemetery) which is incredibly beautiful. The Duomo and Baptisterio are also beautiful. They're all in the Piazza dei Miracoli (piazza of miracles), where the tower is. Then you could pick up your luggage and continue to Florence.

You would almost certainly be better off flying on most of your longer routes, even if the airports are not in the city centers. Amsterdam to Split, Croatia to Athens, Greece to Rome, and Italy to Barcelona are all trips that would take forever by ground transportation. There is a high-speed train between Barcelona and Paris that would be worth considering; you can get good discounts on the tickets by purchasing well in advance.

There is an overnight ferry between Greece and Italy, but getting to the ferry port from whatever island you visit, and getting to Rome from the port in Italy would make the trip take about 24 hours.
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Apr 4th, 2015, 12:07 PM
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Thank you all so much for the great input!! Our trip isn't booked yet, so we are able to be very flexible with our schedule and the places we are going since we are just in the planning stages.

Jean: The full trip will probably by closer to 1 month and 3 weeks with travel days included...however, the trip is basically 1.5 months of touring the different cities which is why I said that. Thanks for the input!

Kathie: We will be sure to research the transportation more so that we make sure that we aren't spending more money/time flying than traveling by train.

Kja and bvlenci: Thank you for the great input about Croatia. I think that we will most likely take a day from Dubrovnik in order to spend a day/night at either Hvar or Korcula. Which one would you recommend? Also, we will definitely be sure to take a day trip from Split to go to the Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Sandralist and Kja: Thank you for the suggestion about taking the train from Rome to Florence with a stop at Pisa along the way. That sounds like the perfect way to travel between the cities!

Also, I would like to point out that the reason we are flying in and out of London is because we found flights through Wow Air [an Icelandic company] that allows us to fly from the US to Reykjavik, Iceland for only $500 each. Then the flight from Iceland to London is short and fairly inexpensive, saving us each about $400 when compared to flights directly from the US to London. So the "open jaw" flights won't work for us since we will most likely be using Wow Air for our flights. Thanks again for the input!
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Apr 4th, 2015, 12:22 PM
  #10
kja
 
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"either Hvar or Korcula. Which one would you recommend?"

Either would be a good choice. FWIW, I thought Hvar Town beautiful, but too upscale for my tastes. I found Korcula a delight. You might need to let the ferry schedules decide for you, though.
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