First trip to Europe... where to go?

Old Mar 24th, 2023, 08:41 AM
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First trip to Europe... where to go?

Hi everyone! I am trying to plan a 10-14 day trip to Europe with my daughter for her college graduation in May/June of this year..... would I be crazy to think I could pull this off at this late date? I am the worst planner .... I have never been to Europe, but my daughter has ... she traveled to Barcelona, French Riviera, Nice, Southern Italy and Greece her senior year of high school. Could anyone suggest fun destinations for a mother daughter trip? And any suggestions on how to plan such a last minute trip? I am having analysis paralysis on where to go.... thinking either a Paris/London/Amsterdam trip or Italy or Greece....thinking maybe a cruise might be my best option as far as availability at this late date .... but would prefer a land trip (I think?) ... anyways I would appreciate anyone's insight/resources on booking this trip/itineraries/etc.... Thank you so much! I sooooo want to be able to do this with my daughter before she heads off to PA School in the fall!

Rina
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Old Mar 24th, 2023, 08:47 AM
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Its not too late but you should get on it right away. With 10 days -- London+Paris. Fly in to one and home from the other and take the train from one to the other. Booking flights and hotels should be your first priority.

If you have 14 days total (which really only nets you 11.5 days free on the ground) you could squeeze in a couple of days in Amsterdam -- still taking the train between each city. OR --still just do London & Paris with more time so you could fit in a day trip out of town (Windsor, or Oxford, or Giverny or Versailles, etc
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Old Mar 24th, 2023, 08:55 AM
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Thank you! Any suggestions on how to find the best flights and hotels at this late date?? do I need a travel agent?
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Old Mar 24th, 2023, 08:58 AM
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Choose a country or a region close to another. Like Paris and London or Pair and Amsterdam, see also janisj's advice
Or Rome and Naples/Rome and Florence/Rome and Venice

You'll do better in big cities where there is lots to choose from, theatre, shops, water, restaurants, museums, art galleries, opera, ballet etc etc (any of the above will do), all these big tourist drawers will have high density English spoken, though obviously London and Amsterdam will have more English than some of the others. But at high contact areas English will be easy.

Now what do you and daughter each like to do when on their own?
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Old Mar 24th, 2023, 08:59 AM
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I agree with janisj
Google flights or Kayak are my go tos for flights but there are many other sites. Booking.com for hotels.
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Old Mar 24th, 2023, 09:04 AM
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No need for a travel agent at all. Are you a member of any of the airline groups frequent flyer programs - One World (AA/BA etc) Star Alliance, UA/LH etc) or Sky Team (Delta/AF etc) .

If not, I'd just go into google -- there is a feature called Google Flights, and play with dates and city pairs. If you want to fly into one city and home from another you want what is called an 'open jaw' ticket. On the airline websites it is often called 'multi-city'.
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Old Mar 24th, 2023, 09:05 AM
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OOPS - didn't see mjs' post. Wasn't copying - honest
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Old Mar 24th, 2023, 09:29 AM
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I think the London-Paris-Amsterdam in any order, using a train for the Paris-Amsterdam transport, or just settling on two cities--London/Paris or Amsterdam/Paris--would work rather well.

You don't need a travel agent. I think half the fun of doing the trip is exploring all the possibilities.

Flights: Kayak and Google Flights and some other search engines will work well for you as long as you click the "Multi-City" type of search. You certainly want to fly into one and fly out of another.

Note: I typically go a bit further since I'm super picky finding cost effective flights with the exact timing I need for this type of multi-city trip. I usually spend a morning or afternoon playing with Matrix Airfare Search and sometimes even play with the old version, Matrix - ITA Software by Google. ITA Matrix is the search engine behind Google Flights, and by playing with dates, times, and stops, I can usually find out which day is best to fly where, if it makes the best economical sense to flight into London or Paris or Amsterdam first etc, and what plane seating plan would work best for us. No, you don't have to drive yourself nuts this way.

Once I move towards a decision, I go to individual airline sites to book. You might have frequent flyer miles or credit card deals that could come into play, and you should check out those.

I'm sure you know by now that it's worth it to fly NON-STOP to any destination.

Hotels--First decide what area you want to stay in each city that's convenient to the things you want to see. This is the time for a map!!! For example, when we started going to Paris ages ago, it was worth it to stay in the 5/6th arrondissements because that location put us right in the middle of most of the sites we wanted to see. Now we can stay in any neighborhood.

After you figure out the general area(s) you'd like to say, do use Booking.com or Tripadvisor as a good starting point. I often will contact the actual hotel to book, though. Sometimes there's quite a price difference.

Enjoy planning!
AZ
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Old Mar 24th, 2023, 10:05 AM
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As it's your first trip to Europe it would make sense to hit one or two of the big cities, and London and Paris are obvious contenders. One thing to consider would be to look at fly+stay packages, which can often make for cheaper overall trips than doing flights and accommodations separately. Most websites offering this service (Expedia et al) as well as some airline sites, like American Airlines Vacations, will let you book hotels for fewer than the total nights for the trip, allowing you to do an open jaw without being locked into more hotel nights in City A than you plan to stay there, if that makes sense.

But at the risk of creating confusion or indecision (analysis paralysis, know it well) I'd also mention that I personally find London to be a bit daunting for first timers. Arrive in the morning after a sleepless night in an airplane seat, fuss with immigration and bag claim, then into the middle of one of the world's largest cities while navigating trains or subways or car services, only to find that your hotel room won't be available for hours... yikes.

Let me suggest just a couple of possible alternatives, just to consider. Since we don't have any idea about your or your daughter's interests, likes and dislikes, we're all sort of rummaging around in the dark, so disregard this if it's nonsensical to you.

1. Windsor, not London. Windsor is charming, very walkable, obviously very British, but it's very close to Heathrow airport (short taxi ride) and makes for a very pleasant "soft landing" in Britain. Save your time in London for when you've had a day or two to get your body clocks adjusted and when you can cross a street without getting massacred by a red bus, because you looked the wrong way before stepping off the curb (or, locally, "kerb.")

2. Delft, not Amsterdam. Same idea. Beautiful, quiet, historic, full of art and Dutch character. Find a hotel next to a canal (way cheaper than comparable places in A'dam) for a day or two, then train to Amsterdam and off you go.

3. Edinburgh. (Full disclosure, my fave city in Europe, so take that for what it's worth.) Scotland's capital is beautiful, walkable, and if your daughter plans a career in medicine, what better place? (Visit the Surgeons' Hall Museums - amazing.) Pubs, castles, noshing, hip, shopping, music, wonderful parks... Maybe take a Rabbie's tour out to the Highlands or other parts of the Scottish countryside. Lots of cheap nonstop flights from Edinburgh to Paris or Amsterdam. Cheaper than London, too.

Just some opinionated thoughts...

Last edited by Gardyloo; Mar 24th, 2023 at 10:09 AM.
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Old Mar 24th, 2023, 10:31 AM
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Just piggy backing
If avoiding Amsterdam you might want to look at Haarlem, it is a dead easy bus ride from the airport, an ancient centre and only a few minutes by train to central (centraal) Amsterdam, so once over jet lag not a bad hop and a skip
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Old Mar 24th, 2023, 10:38 AM
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You DO have your passport already, don't you?
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Old Mar 24th, 2023, 11:29 AM
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I agree with London and Paris. Kayak.com and booking.com are helpful websites. I typically check flight times and availability on kayak.com but book on the airline's website. If you do decide London and Paris, you may wish to travel between them on Eurostar which I would also book ASAP as fares tend to increase. There are many threads here about hotels in London and Paris. Once you know your airline dates, people here can weigh in on their recommendations for available hotels. Happy planning!
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Old Mar 24th, 2023, 03:34 PM
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Another vote for London and Paris! I can't think of a better combination for a mother-daughter trip and London is really the perfect place to start travelling to Europe - English spoken, and what a city! But if you prefer to keep it almost all English, Amsterdam instead of Paris. Paris is charming but they do like you to try speaking French (which is part of the adventure), while Amsterdam has lots of English. But either one, you can't go wrong IMO.

Lavandula
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Old Mar 24th, 2023, 10:37 PM
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Sorry to be blunt, but what does your daughter want to do (and how can she help with the planning and organising)?
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Old Mar 25th, 2023, 06:59 AM
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My first trip to Europe was for a Yiddish class in Lithuania that I got college credit for. I didn't give myself time to see anything as a tourist. I next traveled to Europe when I traveled solo to London - At that time I wrongly believed i could only go to one city per trip. England is a good country for your first trip to Europe. London has the British museum (with the remains of Lindow man), the Victoria and Albert museum (an art museum), the Tate Britain, the tower of London, the Tower Bridge, plays, many more museums, and so on. I saw a play - I had bought my ticket in advance at home online and picked it up in person. I wish I had made time for the Churchhill war room; I wish I had gone to the city of bath, Stonehenge, and possibly somewhere else in England outside of London.

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Old Mar 25th, 2023, 07:37 AM
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The V&A is my favorite museum in any city, anywhere, but it is emphatically NOT an art museum. That is one reason it is my favorite museum. It is (to quote wikipedia) an applied arts, decorative arts and design museum. For art, aka "fine art", London has the National Gallery, the Portrait Gallery and the two Tates. I would also recommend the Museum of London, and there are house museums that are also worth seeing, although perhaps not on a first trip.
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Old Mar 25th, 2023, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by thursdaysd View Post
The V&A is my favorite museum in any city, anywhere, but it is emphatically NOT an art museum. That is one reason it is my favorite museum. It is (to quote wikipedia) an applied arts, decorative arts and design museum. For art, aka "fine art", London has the National Gallery, the Portrait Gallery and the two Tates. I would also recommend the Museum of London, and there are house museums that are also worth seeing, although perhaps not on a first trip.
Ditto re the V&A

A short list of other art galleries would include the Wallace Collection, the Courtauld and others.

Re the Museum of London -- it permanently closed late last year. They are building a new museum in Smithfield but it will be several years before it opens.
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Old Mar 25th, 2023, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Ditto re the V&A

A short list of other art galleries would include the Wallace Collection, the Courtauld and others.

Re the Museum of London -- it permanently closed late last year. They are building a new museum in Smithfield but it will be several years before it opens.
Well, that's sad. I'm sure the new building will be good, but that was a very interesting museum. Have you been to what was the Geffrye since they reopened? That was also closed for a while and is now the Museum of the Home.
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Old Mar 25th, 2023, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Ditto re the V&A

A short list of other art galleries would include the Wallace Collection, the Courtauld and others.

Re the Museum of London -- it permanently closed late last year. They are building a new museum in Smithfield but it will be several years before it opens.
Well that's sad. I'm sure the new building will be good, but that was a very interesting museum. Have you been to what was the Geffrye since they reopened? That was also closed for a while and is now the Museum of the Home.
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Old Mar 25th, 2023, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by thursdaysd View Post
Well that's sad. I'm sure the new building will be good, but that was a very interesting museum. Have you been to what was the Geffrye since they reopened? That was also closed for a while and is now the Museum of the Home.
Not since it re-opened. Loved it back when. Hope they haven't screwed it up too much
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