Help with European Itinerary

Old Feb 11th, 2024, 01:28 AM
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Help with European Itinerary

Hi. I just bought return tickets from Adelaide, Australia to Paris arriving at CDG airport on the 20th of November 2024 and will be going back home on the 11th of January 2025. We are a family of 4 - me (will be celebrating my 50th in Europe) , my husband (51), son (20) and daughter (18). We have travelled to non-English speaking countries in the past and we almost travel overseas every year except during Covid but this is going to be our first time in Europe so we are trying to go to as much places as we can. Planning this trip is overwhelming hence Iím seeking for your expert advise. Iím not too sure if I should do a clockwise route from Paris - London - Germany? - Netherlands?- Amsterdam? - Switzerland - Italy - France then back to Paris or do the counterclockwise route Paris - Nice - Lyon - French Riviera - Italy ( havenít thought the route yet) - Switzerland ( the kids might want to ski in Zermatt for 1day) - then maybe Germany?Netherlands?Amsterdam? - London then back to Paris. Apologies for mixing the countries with the cities as Iím not too sure what to include and which route. We prefer to travel by train and can do car hire as well. We are used to travel like we are in an amazing race as well. I hope I can learn from your knowledge and plan our routes. Thank you so much in advance.
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Old Feb 11th, 2024, 04:29 AM
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Moved to Europe forum
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Old Feb 11th, 2024, 05:30 AM
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Sounds like a whirlwind tour.... For 50 days travel I'd try to book some longer stays in one location here and there just so you can catch your breath, do laundry, and enjoy less moving around at least for a while.

Clockwise vs counterclockwise doesn't really matter. Italy is not on the clock anyway......

For a trip like this it may help you out to get a paper map and put flags or pins in all the places (cities/towns/regions) you want to visit, then you might start to see some logical flow pop out. A way to think of this might be more in clusters. BENELUX, Paris, northern France/Far western Germany as one cluster.

Southern Germany/Alps/Switzerland/French Alps as another, and Italy as a 3rd. England as a 4th. Traveling within a cluster is doable by trains or car. Traveling between clusters either long distance train, or maybe even a flight...... For example, if you were in central or southern Italy, it may make sense to fly to another cluster like London instead of a long train back north.

Offhand, something like a clockwise route. London, Benelux, Germany,Italy, Switzerland, Paris seems logical, but there are infinite options and it may boil down to where you want to be, and when during those 2 months.

If your only reason for visiting Switzerland is skiing, consider also Germany, Italy, or France. All of which have a plethora of great skiing options.

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Old Feb 11th, 2024, 06:30 AM
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Sometimes, circular routes make sense, but often mean money wasted and time backtracking. If you want to include both London and Italy, a multi-city, linear route would be better. Start in London. End in Rome. London, Paris, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Italy. Generally for Europe, it is best to have your itinerary figured out before buying tickets. Is it too late to do that? As someone else said, get a big paper map of Europe. Put pins in it. Look at what works logistically.
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Old Feb 11th, 2024, 09:57 AM
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A cute trick with maps of far away places is to also get a map of your home country at the same scale. The trip from foreign A to B gets a sense of reality when it is matched to home C to D of the same distance.
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Old Feb 11th, 2024, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by AJPeabody
A cute trick with maps of far away places is to also get a map of your home country at the same scale. The trip from foreign A to B gets a sense of reality when it is matched to home C to D of the same distance.
when I lived in Texas ages ago I noted that people would routinely drive 1/2 inch on a paper map of the state to go out to dinner or shopping or whatever. When I moved to NY I noted the same 1/2Ē on a state map distance limit. Anything beyond that was deemed too far. Different scale but same conclusion. Go figure. AJs point (incl same scale) is spot on.
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Old Feb 11th, 2024, 11:47 AM
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Welcome to Fodors.

" . . . so we are trying to go to as much places as we can." Makes things difficult. The more you dash around from place to place you end up likely seeing less. When you subtract all the transit days and acclimating to each new destination - you end up actually seeing / doing less than if you slowed down just a teensy bit. I don't mean spending a week in each place (though cities like London definitely warrant staying a week or more).

Nov 21 through Jan 10 (the actual useable touring time) - 7 weeks - is a generous amount of time. But if you are traveling full stop for seven weeks, after about 10 or 12 days your won't know (nor care very much) where you are. Slow down just a bit maybe 5 or 6 days in Paris, a week in London, 3 or 4 days in s few other cities with some 2 night stops in between.

You'll see a lot more, won't be exhausted halfway through the trip, and will even have time to do laundry a few times . In the cities with longer stays look for VRBO/airbnb/etc apartments -- lots more space, kitchen/kitchenette, an actual living room/lounge for the same or less money than tiny European hotel rooms.

Last edited by janisj; Feb 11th, 2024 at 11:50 AM.
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Old Feb 11th, 2024, 02:45 PM
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Thank you for your input. Iíll definitely get a map so I can picture it better. I donít even know BENELUX. Iím googling it soon.
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Old Feb 11th, 2024, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by J62
Sounds like a whirlwind tour.... For 50 days travel I'd try to book some longer stays in one location here and there just so you can catch your breath, do laundry, and enjoy less moving around at least for a while.

Clockwise vs counterclockwise doesn't really matter. Italy is not on the clock anyway......

For a trip like this it may help you out to get a paper map and put flags or pins in all the places (cities/towns/regions) you want to visit, then you might start to see some logical flow pop out. A way to think of this might be more in clusters. BENELUX, Paris, northern France/Far western Germany as one cluster.

Southern Germany/Alps/Switzerland/French Alps as another, and Italy as a 3rd. England as a 4th. Traveling within a cluster is doable by trains or car. Traveling between clusters either long distance train, or maybe even a flight...... For example, if you were in central or southern Italy, it may make sense to fly to another cluster like London instead of a long train back north.

Offhand, something like a clockwise route. London, Benelux, Germany,Italy, Switzerland, Paris seems logical, but there are infinite options and it may boil down to where you want to be, and when during those 2 months.

If your only reason for visiting Switzerland is skiing, consider also Germany, Italy, or France. All of which have a plethora of great skiing options.
No, skiing is not the only reason for the Swiss visit. Switzerland has always been in my bucket list so planning to stay a bit longer there compared to Germany. Most probably longer stay in France, Italy and Switzerland. England and Germany will just be short side trips.
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Old Feb 11th, 2024, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Moderator3
Moved to Europe forum
Thank you.
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Old Feb 11th, 2024, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Sassafrass
Sometimes, circular routes make sense, but often mean money wasted and time backtracking. If you want to include both London and Italy, a multi-city, linear route would be better. Start in London. End in Rome. London, Paris, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Italy. Generally for Europe, it is best to have your itinerary figured out before buying tickets. Is it too late to do that? As someone else said, get a big paper map of Europe. Put pins in it. Look at what works logistically.
Yes, unfortunately. I got us cheap tickets via Singapore Airlines. Thank you for your input
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Old Feb 11th, 2024, 04:00 PM
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You listed lots of cities and countries but no real interests, other than skiing in Zermatt. (Does it have to be Zermatt?)

At this point, I would focus less on the order of travel and more on what exactly you most want to see and do on this trip. Hopefully, it doesn't include every single place you mentioned or include hours on trains every few days. If you haven't already been to Paris, London, Rome, those three (and travel times) could take up to half of your total days. BTW, you mentioned more specific places in France than any other country... is that an unconscious tip to your priorities?

Do you care much about where you are for Christmas? New Year's Eve/Day?
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Old Feb 11th, 2024, 05:55 PM
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"Does it have to be Zermatt?" Of course it does! I myself have never skied outside New England and New York, and that was more than 50 years ago. Lots of skiers had their jackets emblazoned with souvenir patches from every mountain with a snow machine and from every little hill with a rope tow. I had only one patch: Zermatt.

Last edited by AJPeabody; Feb 11th, 2024 at 05:55 PM. Reason: typos
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Old Feb 11th, 2024, 07:02 PM
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You'll be going from low to high season during those seven weeks. How much is budget an issue? If budget matters Venice mid November is a fraction of high season prices. For example

The ski destinations will be high season. Nothing you can do about that.

I'd guess the Christmas markets in Germany will be high season prices.

There are easier/convenient groupings. Paris to London by train . Or Paris to Amsterdam by train. In addition you can hop around by air.

Why are you going to the Riviera mid winter? Even if it was mid summer your own home beaches are nicer.

You've got so much on your plate it could easily just turn into an expensive endurance test. Don't think about doing the most possible. Think about doing what you really want. Go home sane and agree to travel. Not stressed out and ready to curl into a ball
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Old Feb 12th, 2024, 02:05 AM
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If you want things to visit over the Christmas period, all the museums in Amsterdam are open as normal, even on Christmas Day. Transport also runs fairly normally over that period, Unlike say in the UK where things grind to a halt for days.
Bear in mind in your planning perhaps.
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Old Feb 12th, 2024, 04:26 AM
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winter in Europe is dark, wet and unpleasant a lot of the time. The continent drives on the RHS (I know crazy) and in the UK/Ireland on the LHS. Days are short and in a lot of places you need to have a plan B if you expected to go say walking and it is chucking it down.

I think you are just throwing darts blind at a dart board. I really don't think we can help you unless you give us a clue what you like to do. For instance do you like to stay in Spas, then focusing on Hungary would make a lot of sense. Skiing then regions around the Alps makes more sense. Obviously Climate Change means you want to be as high as possible as lower slopes will, as usual, suffer.
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Old Feb 12th, 2024, 04:52 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj
Welcome to Fodors.

" . . . so we are trying to go to as much places as we can." Makes things difficult. The more you dash around from place to place you end up likely seeing less. When you subtract all the transit days and acclimating to each new destination - you end up actually seeing / doing less than if you slowed down just a teensy bit. I don't mean spending a week in each place (though cities like London definitely warrant staying a week or more).

Nov 21 through Jan 10 (the actual useable touring time) - 7 weeks - is a generous amount of time. But if you are traveling full stop for seven weeks, after about 10 or 12 days your won't know (nor care very much) where you are. Slow down just a bit maybe 5 or 6 days in Paris, a week in London, 3 or 4 days in s few other cities with some 2 night stops in between.

You'll see a lot more, won't be exhausted halfway through the trip, and will even have time to do laundry a few times . In the cities with longer stays look for VRBO/airbnb/etc apartments -- lots more space, kitchen/kitchenette, an actual living room/lounge for the same or less money than tiny European hotel rooms.
Thank you for your suggestions. I will plan 5 days in Paris as suggested then probably do Nice and/or Lyon and other areas. Do you have any suggestion as to where to stay overnight or 2 on the outskirts? London for a week as suggested. Do you have a recommendation on how long to stay in Italy? I would like to visit Rome, Venice, Florence, Milan. I would like to spend probably a week in Switzerland. Nothing is set yet.

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Old Feb 12th, 2024, 04:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Jean
You listed lots of cities and countries but no real interests, other than skiing in Zermatt. (Does it have to be Zermatt?)

At this point, I would focus less on the order of travel and more on what exactly you most want to see and do on this trip. Hopefully, it doesn't include every single place you mentioned or include hours on trains every few days. If you haven't already been to Paris, London, Rome, those three (and travel times) could take up to half of your total days. BTW, you mentioned more specific places in France than any other country... is that an unconscious tip to your priorities?

Do you care much about where you are for Christmas? New Year's Eve/Day?
No priorities on specific places really except for the famous sights/spots. We can come back for a more detailed trip to the not so famous touristy areas. Where do you suggest we should spend Christmas and New Year? I have no clue. Not really fuss.

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Old Feb 12th, 2024, 04:56 AM
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Originally Posted by wiegord
No priorities on specific places really except for the famous sights/spots. We can come back for a more detailed trip to the not so famous touristy areas. Where do you suggest we should spend Christmas and New Year? I have no clue. Not really fuss.
see my post upthread
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Old Feb 12th, 2024, 05:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Traveler_Nick
You'll be going from low to high season during those seven weeks. How much is budget an issue? If budget matters Venice mid November is a fraction of high season prices. For example

The ski destinations will be high season. Nothing you can do about that.

I'd guess the Christmas markets in Germany will be high season prices.

There are easier/convenient groupings. Paris to London by train . Or Paris to Amsterdam by train. In addition you can hop around by air.

Why are you going to the Riviera mid winter? Even if it was mid summer your own home beaches are nicer.

You've got so much on your plate it could easily just turn into an expensive endurance test. Don't think about doing the most possible. Think about doing what you really want. Go home sane and agree to travel. Not stressed out and ready to curl into a ball
Would love an affordable accommodation, train fares and car hire but if it canít be helped, I can still soldier on. Iíd rather avoid airports as the weather can be unpredictable during winter and would like to avoid delays and cancellations hassle.

Iíve read the Riviera weather is much nicer compared to other places in Europe. It is cold but not freezing cold. We actually love the cold but not the freezing negative degrees cold. We will be there just to sightsee then leave straight away like move on to the next.
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