Help on planning my first Europe Trip

Feb 3rd, 2011, 01:23 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2011
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Help on planning my first Europe Trip


We are planning our first europe trip. As of now, we are planning to come to London (meet family and celebrate my niece's 2nd birthday). So around 10 days in london. From there, since I dont have much idea, need your suggestions on planning rest of the trip. Have thought of the following from London:

Paris (2 days)
Rome (2days)
Florence (1day)
Venice (2days)
Interlaken (2 days)
Luzern (2 days)
Zurich (2days)

In 12 to 13 days we plan to spend in Paris, Italy & Switzerland. We would be coming in June / July. I know, 2 days in each place is not enough, but we want to try.

If someone can help me plan the route with some suggestions for budget hotels (with attached bath). I plan to spend less than 4000 euros in these 13 days (other than flights)
goanoop is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2011, 02:03 AM
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<>. This is correct and you will not have two full days in each place as you need to factor in door to door travel time. You are going to eat up at least half a day just getting from Paris to Rome so will have so little time there it is not even worth it.

Your itinerary as above will have you traveling more than enjoying. Cut out at two cities.

For budget hotels, use the search feature on this forum to read the threads on this subject for each city as this has been asked and answered numerous times.
kfusto is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2011, 03:08 AM
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Almost everyone here will tell you that 7 cities in 13 days is not practical - I agree. On my first couple of trips to Europe, I attempted similar plans, and though we still enjoyed our visits, the constant packing, checking out of hotels, getting cabs to train stations, waiting for trains, riding on trains (the only really pleasurable part of this type of experience), taxi-ing to a new hotel, checking in, unpacking, getting re-oriented to a new place - and then doing the same routine over again a day or two later - left us exhausted. And there were so many sights we just did not get to see - fortunately, we were able to return to most of those places on later trips.

Now, we try to spend at least 3 nights, or preferably a minimum of 4, in each place. That pace suits us better. I'd recommend you stick to 3 or 4 bases - either all in Italy, all in Switzerland, or a combination of Northern Italy and Switzerland.

Happy Planning!
phillyboy is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2011, 03:39 AM
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Go to Paris, Rome and maybe Venice. Drop the rest... you just don't have time. Every time you move cities you lose a day... so you lose 1/2 your time just shlepping from one town to the next.
ParisAmsterdam is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2011, 03:54 AM
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Too crammed try to pare back a bit for better experience.

For me Paris Geneva by nice train pick up the CisAlpino

through the lake country down to Venice hopping on and

off a few neat places like Interlaken

for Isola Bella Garda Venice Florence

Rome fly back for trains train like a local works best for me good tips budget guides

Happy Planning,
qwovadis is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2011, 05:16 AM
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Agree that your present itinerary is not practical or pleasant. You won't remember anything but the inside of trains, planes and cabs and you won't recall which was where. You are spending 10 days in London and will have a great opportunity to see the city.

I would completely eliminate either Italy or Switzerland - probably Italy as 6 days is not nearly enough time to scratch the surface there. Then I would spend 4 days in Paris and the rest of your time in Switzerland.
mamcalice is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2011, 05:23 AM
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If doing all that by train then look strongly at the Eurail Select 3 Country Saverpass - valid in France, Switzerland and Italy - and there is a special on this pass if bought before the end of March you get, on 6-day passes and more an extra day free. But I do agree with the current here that figuring travel in between cities you do not have enough time in most to fully appreciate them. I would cut off Lucerne and zurich and add them into Italy and Paris and Interlaken - try to fly out of Rome. Anyway for loads of tips on planning the rail part of the journey I always spotlight these info-laden sites -;; And for train schedules all over Europe the Wunderbar or German Railways site.
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2011, 05:43 AM
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Agree that this is too much. When you look at it like this:

Day 1 - London to Paris
Day 2 - Paris
Day 3 - Paris to Rome
Day 4 - Rome
Day 5 - Rome to Florence
Day 6 - Florence to Venice
Day 7 - Venice
Day 8 - Venice to Interlaken
Day 9 - Interlaken
Day 10 - Interlaken to Luzerne
Day 11 - Luzerne
Day 12 - Luzerne to Zurich
Day 13 - Zurich

Are you flying home from Zurich? That doesnt leave time to even see Zurich.

You will be spending a lot of time and money just moving around, but dont have time to really see much and enjoy your time in each place. Florence and Zurich you dont even have a full day. I would drop them and pick 3 locations so that you can actually see the places and not just be in transit.

It will take 1/2 day at least everytime you move by the time you check-out, get to the airport/train station, wait for plane/train, travel, get to new hotel, check in, settle and then head out. Can you do what you are proposing - sure logistically, but it may not be the best use of your time and money vacation wise.
jamikins is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2011, 09:25 AM
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For my first trip to Europe, I started off with an itinerary sort of like yours. I pared it down quite a bit and I am very glad that I did. As others have pointed out, the days that you move from one place to another really are moving days rather than sightseeing days and that eats up a lot of time. It is a balancing act between going to all the places you want to and actually having enough time to see the places you do go to.

From a budget perspective, moving around less will save you money because your transportation costs will be less.

Generally speaking we spend at least 2 nights in each location, preferably more. The exception is when something is on the way to someplace else. For example, this summer we will be visiting Munich (4 nights) and Prague (5 nights) - Regensburg is enroute by train, which I really want to see, but the train schedules don't work out well for stoping there and then continuing to Prague the same day. So we will spend 1 night there before continuing onto Prague.
november_moon is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2011, 11:26 AM
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Paris to Rome can be done with the Artesia Overnight hotel trains that leave Paris-Bercy about 7pm and get to Rome the next morning - this would free up one day at least and also save on a night's hotel. If you had a railpass it would be valid for the basic train fare on the overnight train but you'd have to pay extra for the sleping accommodation of your choice - from private double to multi-person couchette compartments.
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2011, 11:45 AM
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Your itinerary is definitely ambitious, but not impossible. I agree with most of those who have recommended you scale it down, but then I also understand that you'd like to see as much as possible. The problem isn't so much that you are limiting your time in any given place, but more that you will likely get yourselves in a position where you have no room for error and, more importantly, no flexibility. This is not good for a couple of reason: 1) You can almost rest assured that something will fail to go as planned, and 2) You will find something wonderful along the way and want to stay longer.

I've lived in Scotland (my wife is from there) and have traveled a bunch in Europe. I've been to almost all of the places on your list and they are all good choices.

Given that, let's see how we can make it happen for you:

First of all, while London is one of my 3 favorite places in the world, you don't need to spent 10 days there to see the main sites. I'd scale that back to 5 or 6 and use those extra days somewhere else. If you ride the EuroStar from London to Paris, you'll only burn around 2.5 hours and you'll be leaving Central London and arriving at Le Gare du' Nord in Central Paris.

From Paris, take a 'Night Train' to Zurich. If you get a sleeper, you'll leave Paris around 22:00 to 24:00 and arrive refreshed and ready to go in Zurich the next morning. Also, you save the cost of a hotel, so even though the sleeper costs extra, it's still a bargain.

After you've had your fill of Switzerland, check on another night train to Venice or fly on one of the cheap airlines(If you absolutely must go there). From there, take train to Florence , then on to Rome.

Fly home from Rome (Called an Open-Jaw flight). With the extra days saved from London, you can make this work.

Now, for the bad part- You are going to be missing some of the best cities in Europe if you go with this itinerary. Specifically, Edinburgh, Scotland (probably Europe's most beautiful city); Munich, Germany/Salzburg, Austria (Bavaria is incredible) and Vienna, Austria (the Paris of Eastern Europe). For what it's worth, I'd highly recommend you consider swapping Bavaria for one of your other destinations. Venice is cool, but smelly in the Summer and full of tourists. Florence is better and Rome is a world unto itself, pickpockets included).

Anyway, good luck with it all and have a great time and MOST IMPORTANTLY- PACK LIGHT, then take out half of what you packed and leave it at home. If you're taking more than 3 or 4 changes of clothes, you're taking too much
ClanMurray is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2011, 01:21 PM
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Totally agree that your itinerary is too ambitious. Can you shorten your stay in London to give yourself more travel time? Even if you can, I would drop I would drop several cities off your list because you do want your trip to be enjoyable. I know you want to see it all but that is just not possible.

Which places are the most important for you to see? Focus on those and save the others for your next trip. Dropping Italy or Switzerland (or even Paris) from this list makes sense. If you only have 12 or 13 days, I would figure on four places maximum (fewer would be better) and you will still have a very busy and quite rushed trip.
KTtravel is offline  
Feb 4th, 2011, 09:18 AM
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clanmurray - checking I do not see a night train between Paris and Zurich - they could have been scrubbed I believe when the new high-speed LGV-Est line in France was opened, slashing Paris to Zurich train travel time to just 3.5 hours. There could be some overnight service in summer but it could be the overnight train has been cancelled - I did ride it several times so a pity IMO. (I am not saying definitely there is no night train just that schedules indicate the lack of one.
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 4th, 2011, 11:04 AM
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How old are you, how many are you, and why are you so determined to try? If you've not traveled to Europe before, a trip like you've described will be exhausting, confusing and likely unenjoyable.

Ditch the Swiss part -- Switzerland is riotously expensive and you're talking about budget lodging, which means you're trying to keep costs low. Go Paris for 3, Nice for 3 (beach respite), Venice or Florence for 2 and Rome for the remainder. That's still a lot of time on trains.

And Edinburgh is very nice, but it's not even top 5 in most "beautiful" cities in Europe.
BigRuss is offline  
Feb 4th, 2011, 02:27 PM
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PalenQ: Thanks for the info on the Paris/Zurich 'Night Train'. I'm heading back over in August and had planned to take it, so will revise.

Big Russ: Everyone has their opinion and you are certainly entitled to yours. Enlighten me- What would be your Top 5?
ClanMurray is offline  
Feb 4th, 2011, 02:51 PM
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You have to factor in the time it takes to get from place to place. You simply cannot have (2 days Paris, 2 days Rome, etc.)

You need to subtract at least 0.5 days each time you change locations. I can be done but you need to face the reality that that means you'll actually have pretty much 1 day in each city, and a LOT of time checking in and out of hotels, walking or taxiing to train stations, on trains, in planes... instead of sightseeing in the cities you have chosen.
suze is offline  
Feb 14th, 2011, 12:52 PM
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PalenQ: Thanks for the info on the Paris/Zurich 'Night Train'. I'm heading back over in August and had planned to take it, so will revise>

I think you can take an overnight train Paris to Stuttgart, Germany then an ICE a few hours to Zurich - about the only way to do it by night I believe - and I am a huge fan of overnight trains and their efficacy and money savings as well.
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 14th, 2011, 05:09 PM
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You have planned quite a comprehensive tour of the train stations of europe. Your 2 days in each place includes the time to travel there - so you will actually have 1 day in each place - or only a brief part of a day in florence.

If you want to look at this rationally I would make a list of the places you want to see in several of the places - and then how much time it will take to see them. then compare to how much time you will actually have in a city (after you have accounted for getting there, finding your hotel, checking in etc).

I think you will see that except for London - you really don;t have time to see/do much.
nytraveler is offline  
Feb 15th, 2011, 09:03 AM
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For me Paris Geneva by nice train pick up the CisAlpino>

Cisalpino trains have not run in at least two years! Often now you have to change at the Italian border when coming from Switzerland. Forget about Cisalpino trains as they do not exist!
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 15th, 2011, 09:03 AM
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For me Paris Geneva by nice train pick up the CisAlpino>

Cisalpino trains have not run in at least two years! Often now you have to change at the Italian border when coming from Switzerland. Forget about Cisalpino trains as they do not exist!
PalenQ is offline  

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