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Having trouble narrowing down my itinerary

Having trouble narrowing down my itinerary

Old May 22nd, 2022, 12:36 AM
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Having trouble narrowing down my itinerary

Hi everyone,

I recently learned Iíll be doing a work trip in 2 weeks and then Iíll be taking 16 nights to explore Europe.

Iím having a tough time narrowing down if I want to go to:

A) Venice/Florence/Rome
B) Just Spain (Seville, Barcelona, Madrid)
C) Country mix (Berlin, Amsterdam, Budapest)
D) A mix of Portugal and maybe a little Spain

Iím 23 and this would be my first solo trip. I like going to museums, looking at beautiful architecture, and just getting lost exploring. I think a social aspect to this trip would be nice, but not totally required. Iím planning on staying in hostels.

Originally I wanted to explore Southern Europe as all the places Iíve been (Prague, Vienna, Paris, London) have been basically western/Central Europe. But I learned I also have a friend who I can visit briefly in Berlin.

To make things more complicated, most likely Iíll be going to Europe twice (Iím switching jobs so I have an extra break in between). One 2 week vacation for work trip in June, and then another 4 week trip in July. This isnít 100% however since Iím waiting for my start date of the next job.

These all sound like cool destinations. Here are some pros and cons:

Italy:
Pros:
- June is probably better for Italy crowds and heat wise
- LOTS of sightseeing and museums and history
Cons:
- Italy might be less social than the other destinations

Spain:
Pros: Has a mix of sights, good socializing, history
Cons: Iím going in June, so temps in Seville would be high (idk if I should skip Seville just for that reason).

Portugal:
Pros: I have heard amazing things about being a solo traveler in Portugal. Really pretty architecture and castles and cool beaches
Cons: I feel like I should visit Italy or Spain before Portugal but typing that out loud sounds kind of dumb. Also for my tastes, 16 nights might be too much

Berlin/Amsterdam/Budapest:
Pros: Lots of sights and ruin pubs look so cool. Great socializing.
Cons: I wanted to see Southern Europe and maybe swim, but I guess itís not the biggest deal. Also Anne Frank house tickets are sold out

Im having analysis paralysis and donít know how to narrow things down.
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Old May 22nd, 2022, 01:41 AM
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For a first trip, I would go for Italy - one of the most amazing places ever! While itís been a long time since Iíve been 23, I was there in my early 20s and loved it. Lots of museums, great food, easy transportation. Weíve been back a number of times and thereís always more to see.

Weíre currently in Portugal, but I think a number of the places that are great to see are best seen with a car. I know itís manageable with public transportation, but not quite as easy to get to the smaller places.
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Old May 22nd, 2022, 01:56 AM
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Originally Posted by progol View Post
For a first trip, I would go for Italy - one of the most amazing places ever! While itís been a long time since Iíve been 23, I was there in my early 20s and loved it. Lots of museums, great food, easy transportation. Weíve been back a number of times and thereís always more to see.

Weíre currently in Portugal, but I think a number of the places that are great to see are best seen with a car. I know itís manageable with public transportation, but not quite as easy to get to the smaller places.
Another vote for Italy, especially since this will be your first solo trip as an adult. As you said, so much history, not to mention some of the loveliest cities and countryside, with 16 nights you can get a judicious mix of both.

Iíd keep the other places you mention for your probable trip in July, with a month you can travel to a couple of different countries.

Enjoy planning the first of many more such trips in the years aheadÖ
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Old May 22nd, 2022, 02:22 AM
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Appreciate the advice everyone! This is what my gut was actually telling me.

Since I have 16 nights, would this be a good itinerary? I am not sure if itís preferable to visit Lake Como + Cinque Terre or visit Amalfi coast. Amalfi coast looks really nice as does CT!

And is Venice a good starting point?

Day 1: Land in Venice Marco Polo international
Day 2: Full day in Venice
Day 3: partial day in Venice and leave for Lago Como. Stay in Bellagio or Varenna
Day 4: Varenna/Lake Como
Day 5: Cinque Terre (partial)
Day 6: Cinque Terre
Day 7: Florence/Pisa en route
Day 8: Florence
Day 9: Florence
Day 10: Florence/Siena day trip
Day 11: Florence/Maybe Bologna day trip?
Day 12: Rome
Day 13: Rome
Day 14: Rome
Day 15: Rome
Day 16: Rome
Day 17: Leave

Other option is to skip Cinque Terre and Lago Como, and visit the Amalfi coast after Rome.

If I did the other option I could also visit Pompeii
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Old May 22nd, 2022, 03:18 AM
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Your itin looks fine. June is still early in the italian holiday period

Given your age (and given that Italian students tend to be older, first graduation average age is 25+) I might look at a stopping in Bologna a fair bit more.

So start in Venice, Padova, (just because they are such amazing towns), then down to Bologna (big university town), then Florence and finally Rome. You'll see from the train system there are loads of other exciting places to stop along the way. Maybe even take a slow train rather than rush about like a tourist.

seat61.com explains train system
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Old May 22nd, 2022, 04:56 AM
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You are 23 but your planned trip reads like one for a 70 year old.

Relax, and leave room for surprises, discoveries and lifetime memories.
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Old May 22nd, 2022, 05:20 AM
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Originally Posted by cdnyul View Post
You are 23 but your planned trip reads like one for a 70 year old.

Relax, and leave room for surprises, discoveries and lifetime memories.
How come? Too many days per city? What can I do to improve it

Itís kind of hard to just come there without a plan for when Iíll be at each city because I do want to book ahead for things that may sell out like the Vatican
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Old May 22nd, 2022, 05:23 AM
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I'd go to Italy since you expressed an interest in museums and architecture. I think you are trying to do too much. Even with 16 days you want to be in Italy (not in a train station).
You might consider Venice-Florence-Rome (give up Lake Como and Cinque Terre). One gem between Florence and Rome is Orvieto . The Amalfi Coast is spectacular but not inexpensive and you will spend more time getting there.

There are great day trips from Rome although you could spend 16 days in Rome and never see it all. Two day trips from Rome - Ostia Antica and Tivoli (Hadrian's Villa and Villa d'Este) Villa d'Este is one of my favorite places. In summer, they are open at night and seeing the fountains lit up is magic (and refreshing after a hot day).

You will see a lot in Italy and you don't have to go looking for it (I promise).
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Old May 22nd, 2022, 05:51 AM
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Originally Posted by denisea View Post
I'd go to Italy since you expressed an interest in museums and architecture. I think you are trying to do too much. Even with 16 days you want to be in Italy (not in a train station).
You might consider Venice-Florence-Rome (give up Lake Como and Cinque Terre). One gem between Florence and Rome is Orvieto . The Amalfi Coast is spectacular but not inexpensive and you will spend more time getting there.

There are great day trips from Rome although you could spend 16 days in Rome and never see it all. Two day trips from Rome - Ostia Antica and Tivoli (Hadrian's Villa and Villa d'Este) Villa d'Este is one of my favorite places. In summer, they are open at night and seeing the fountains lit up is magic (and refreshing after a hot day).

You will see a lot in Italy and you don't have to go looking for it (I promise).
Appreciate the feedback! Out of curiosity, why is it doing too much? It gives 5 full days in Rome, 4 full days in Tuscany, 2 in Venice, and basically 1.5 ish in Lago Como.

Also budget isnít an issue for me. I really wanted to see the Blue Grotto in the Amalfi Coast. Iím doing hostels for the social aspect.

I will take a look at these day trips!
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Old May 22nd, 2022, 12:01 PM
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The Blue Grotto is on the island of Capri, not the Amalfi Coast. Whether or not boats can go in there is dependent upon the conditions of the sea. I would not build an itinerary around seeing it. An overtouristed
site.
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Old May 22nd, 2022, 02:50 PM
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Well - there is a ton to see and while you will likely never see it all, you do have to take travel time and waiting time (as in line/queue) to get in places that are of interest to you. We spent 9 nights in Rome a few years ago and didn't scratch the surface of what there is to see. But that's me. Given that you are going in June, you will have more crowds and post-covid potentially more than usual.

Amalfi Coast is gorgeous but not particularly easy to get to from Rome, Venice or Florence. And the post on the Blue Grotto being at Capri is correct, so all of those places take travel time (trains, boats, automobiles). It sounds a bit more exhausting than exhilarating.

It's your trip - so do what you think you would enjoy. I'll just say that in my experience, I feel like I see more and enjoy more of the experience when I am not trying to cover too much distance in one trip. There isn't a right or wrong but I do always look back at our trips to see what we could have done differently or better - even on our best trips. Whatever you decide, enjoy your trip. Italy is wonderful and would be if you went to a cafe everyday and just sipped wine and watched people.
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Old May 22nd, 2022, 03:53 PM
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I love Venice and Rome, so I think you're shortchanging Venice. Venice has a LOT of art & architecture to see way beyond running the gauntlet from Rialto to San Marco. The city is also much more pleasant in the quieter, less-visited areas.

If you like contemporary art, the Venice Biennale Arte is currently on.

https://www.labiennale.org/en/art/2022
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Old May 22nd, 2022, 04:02 PM
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I have to chime in....definitely Italy. I agree with the posters above. You don't want to be running from one train station to another. My rule of thumb is 3 full days in one place. If I get sick of it or feel the need to wander, I do a day trip. For example : Venice 3 days and one day Burano and Murano. It is a vacay, so you want to relax. If you stay in hostels, you give yourself some time to socialize. If not, why not do some walking tours. The "free" ones are great and attract a lot of younger people (always give them a big tip). As a side note, if it is in your budget, you can do some foodie tours. There are great guides in Venice.

Having said all that, some people enjoy the journey more than the place. If that is the case, then stick with the itinerary you made above.
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Old May 22nd, 2022, 04:56 PM
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If you are interested in Bologna, you could visit there after Venice as it is about an hour away by train. If it were my trip, I would cut out Lake Como and stay longer in Venice and add a day or two in Bologna. You could cut a day from Rome. You could consider:

Day 1, 2 and 3 Venice (Visit Burano & Murano one of those days. Be sure to go to the Piazza Marco Polo at night when the crowds have left and listen to the orchestras.)
Day 4 & 5 Bologna
Day 6, 7 & 8 CT
Day 9 ,10 & 11 Florence
Day 12 Day trip to Siena (or stay in Siena)
Day 13+ Rome
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