First trip to Europe

Nov 2nd, 2007, 01:42 PM
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First trip to Europe

My parent's and I are planning our first trip to Europe soon and we are planning to go for one month and plan on visiting 5 countries. The countries are: Italy, France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland and I have the citites of interest for us to visit in each country.

Italy: Rome, Florwnce, Venice
Switzerland: Zurich and Gevenva
Austria: Vienna, Salzburd and Innsbruck
Germany: Berlin, Cologne and the Bavarian ares
France: Paris, Normandy and Honfleur

Does this sound reasonable to see all this in one month and does anyone how muhc it will cost to fly from Seattle to Rome. We are going to use our star points for the hotels!
Pezlord22 is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2007, 01:53 PM
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What fun !
In your 30 days I would limit yourself to a max of 10 destinations and be sure that the next one is no more than 4 hours from the last one.
In Switzerland, I would skip both of those cites and see the Berner Oberland and Luzern. When you map this out you will see that some are more contigiuos and will cutmdoen travel time. I would drop Normandy, Berlin, Cologne, and Vienna as being further off the path. Trust me, you do not want less than an average of 3 days per destination---some demand 5.
Star in Paris and end in Rome and fly open jaw. Good luck !
bobthenavigator is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2007, 01:54 PM
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Well, try to check airfares from Seattle. The cost varies a bit depending on when you fly anywhere from $700 to $1500 round-trip per person. Summer is usually the most expensive time, but spring and fall can be busy times too. Rome is a bit more expensive than other cites. You might consider flying to Frankfurt instead if you are going to Germany and fly to Italy from there.

Are you sure you truly wish to go for a month on a first trip to Europe? That's a long time to be gone on a rookie trip - unless you have traveled extensively before just not to Europe. I think a shorter first trip that helps you learn what you like and dislike - so you haven't planned a month of things you might not like so much - could be a better idea.
Andrew is online now  
Nov 2nd, 2007, 05:27 PM
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I would cut the trip back considerably - limit to 3 countries and probably 6 cities.

Since none of you have never been before you may think of "europe" as a single entity like the US. But each country is completely different - in language, culture, how things operate. And you will do yourself a disservice to be constantly bouncing from one city to another and one country to another. A huge amount of your time will be spend packing and unpacking, locating and checking in and out of hotels, finding your way to train stations/airports and back - as well as in transit. Each time you change cities you lose most of a day - even though it may not seem like it now. And in each city things operate differently. You will no sooner have figured out the layout and how things work than it will be time to move on.

I strongly encourage you to pick many fewer cities (from which you can do day trips if you want) so you waste much less time in dealing with arrangements and much more seeing/doing sights - as well as relaxing in cafes, people watching and enjoying the special evening activities - often unique to each place.
nytraveler is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2007, 06:08 PM
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could not agree more with nytraveler!
danon is online now  
Nov 2nd, 2007, 06:15 PM
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Let's look at this realistically. You want to visit 14 cities/regions. You have approx 30 days. You spend 1.5 days getting to Europe and 1 day getting home. The you have at least one day suffering some degree of jet lag. And finally, you lose between .5 and 1 day every time you move from one city to another.

so 30 days - 10 or 11 days for transport/jetlag etc. Leaving a grand total of 19-20 days to see 14 locations.

A month doesn't seem quite so long when you look at the full itinerary.

So - at most you really want 3 countries and 2 or 3 cities in each.
janisj is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2007, 06:19 PM
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I agree with the others. When we travel, we think we would rather know one country well than two poorly.

You have a month so two countries, three max.

Of those Italy and France are our favrites and at different times have spent a total of month in each and still plan to return.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2007, 07:51 PM
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check airfares at

It is nice to see some countryside, in addition to the cities. In Italy, Tuscany is very nice.

I like to spend at least 3 days in a place and sometimes up to a week, so I think you are trying to see too much. Unless you like to be continually on the go while traveling...

It sounds like a wonderful trip. Have fun!
travelgirl2 is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2007, 07:53 PM
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I've notice that lately airfares (from the East Coast) to Italy have been higher than to Germany or France, so it would be worth checking the fares to the various destinations.

London seems to be the cheapest, with good connecting flights to the rest of Europe, but that won't help you as it's not on your list of destinations...
travelgirl2 is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2007, 03:03 AM
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ditto nytraveler.
hopscotch is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2007, 03:30 AM
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One month will probably enough to "do" all of those places you want to see. The question will only be if you get stressed out or are able to enjoy it.
Maybe it would help you to check your list again and find 3-4 must-see places, and work the rest of your trip around that.

For a first trip to Europe, I would start slow. Paris and Rome may get on your nerves on day 1 with the jet lag, busy traffic, etc.
You can cut down on that by choosing a more "quiet" start in Zurich or Vienna and see the countryside in the Alps.

I would also group your destinations in places where you definetely need a rental car (Normandy, Alps CH/AT, Bavaria), where a car does not bother a lot (Zurich, Geneva, Salzburg, Innsbruck), and places where you definetely do not want to drive or where public transportation does a better job (Paris, Rome, Berlin, Cologne, Vienna).

You may also want to keep in mind that international drop off fees for rental cars can be steep.

You will also pay toll (and sometimes lots of toll) on motorways in FR, IT, CH, and AT.

Low fare airlines or fast trains also help with distances or routes that are either far or not necessarily scenic. Often it also cheaper to take the plane instead of paying for gas and toll.

And, last but not least, it also depends on what time of year you want to travel. If you go in July, I'd rather see the lavender in Provence than Normandy, for example.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2007, 04:09 AM
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I do agree with the others that if you limit the number of destinations you'll have a more relaxed enjoyable trip. However, your plan is not crazy, just a little ambitious. You may be influenced by tour groups which hit that many places in that much time. But on tours you don't deal with public transportation - or have to drive yourself, finding parking, hotels, etc each day. I'm not suggesting you do a tour, I persoanlly hate them, but only that it will take you longer to get from place to place than you may think.

How do you plan to travel - car rental will be the most economical for three people and will also let you stop and see some small towns and countryside. You don't want the car in Paris or Rome so put them at each end of the trip (and fly open jaw).

Trying to keep it as close as possible to what you said you wanted to see this is what I'd do:

Start in Paris for minimum 3 nights, pick up car as you leave and drive to Honfleur for 1-2 nights (depending on how much of Normandy you want to see). Then drive to Cologne (you could stop in Luxemborg on the way). I'd skip Berlin. Then down to the Bavarian areas, about 3 days (consider someplace like Fussen as a base). Now you're up to about 10-11 days. Then Switzerland for about 4-5 days. Agree with the suggestion to do the Berner Oberland and Lucerne instead of Zurich and Geneva. Then back up to Innsbruck and Salzburg. Vienna is quite a bit out of your way, I'd drop it. Then down to Italy. Make sure you have at least 10 days minimum left. Stop in Venice first (you can leave the car at a garage in Mestre for 2-3 days, very cheap, take the train into Venice itself). Then Florence, and end in Rome.

isabel is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2007, 05:12 AM
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Hi P,

>we are planning to go for one month and plan on visiting 5 countries....Rome, Florwnce, Venice...

Well, R, F and V are worth 2 weeks themselves.

Paris is worth 1 week.
Normandy and Honfleur is 1 week

Vienna, Salzburd and Innsbruck
... and the Bavarian ares
That's 2 more weeks weeks

The rest of your itinerary will be at least 1 week.

So, how to cram 7 weeks into only 5 weeks?


Choose the most important places that will require 5 weeks.

Fly into one city and out of the one farthest away.

See and for airfare.

See for intra-European airfare.

See, and for rental cars.

See for train schedules.

Don't buy any railpasses until you have an itinerary and can check the national rail sites.

When are you going?

ira is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2007, 05:13 AM
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>So, how to cram 7 weeks into only 5 weeks?

That should be 4 weeks.

ira is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2007, 08:17 AM
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I think you need to trim the itinerary by about 1/2.

From Seattle I usually go British Air overnight into London then onward from there. I know Air France has started a new nonstop to Paris also.

Booking your plane ticket "open jaw" into one city and out of your last one (into Paris out of Rome, as example) will likely not cost much more and save you time and money backtracking for your return flight end of the trip.
suze is offline  
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