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Honeymoon Help!

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Jan 15th, 2014, 09:44 AM
  #1
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Honeymoon Help!

Hello!

We are hoping to plan a honeymoon to Europe around the end of August or early September. I am looking for a little advice as to how we can get a combination trip of culture, architecture, amazing food, etc., but also have some time to relax on a beach. Because of work obligations, we are going to be a bit pressed for time - probably having about 7 or 8 days there (not including travel).

I have traveled abroad many times and actually lived abroad for 2 years. However, my fiance has never been to Europe and is definitely a little apprehensive. I have made it my mission to plan a fabulous trip that we will both be excited for. Spain and Italy have seemed to be the two countries he is most interested in. I have been to both (each for only a few days) so would be excited to go to either.

I would prefer to start the trip with a lot of action and ultimately end with a few days on the beach. We are also flexible with our travel dates. Any advice on possible itineraries would be wonderful!
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Jan 15th, 2014, 09:53 AM
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I would start by searching flights (I always set up e-mail alerts with Kayak to track fares) to coastal Italian and Spanish cities. With only a week, the first goal is to maximize time! Shoot for September more than August (slightly better on money and fewer crowds).

European beaches are not like American beaches, so it is always good to clarify exactly what you mean by beach time. (For example, for me it is just being in a seaside location and maybe some coastal hikes, NOT paying for a chair and umbrella on a crowded strip of sand).

Since you are floundering, I will throw out a few suggestions that offer the culture/beach mix you mentioned, and which are also doable in a week--but you really need to sit down with some guide books (or in front of a computer screen) with your fiance and determine your dream trip.
1) San Sebastian and Basque country
2) Barcelona
3) Naples for the Amalfi Coast
4) Genoa or Pisa for the Italian riviera
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Jan 15th, 2014, 10:47 AM
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Pick 2 destinations in the same country in that short time.
Late August will be crowded in any resort destinations.
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Jan 15th, 2014, 11:02 AM
  #4
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Thank you! I have spent some time in Barcelona and personally am leaning towards Italy. Do you think it would be possible to for example, fly into Venice and make our way South throughout the week and ultimately end up Naples? Or would that be too far of a distance to travel without flying. What do you recommend for traveling throughout the country? High Speed trains?

I think if we can nail down at least a country and means of transportation, it will make my internet research much less broad to start making some actual decisions!
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Jan 15th, 2014, 11:23 AM
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I would not try to traverse the country in one week, as you would lose a day in transit. I would try to find one place where there is a lot of what you seek (city plus beach) within a short distance of each other.
I don't know much about Venice and its environs.
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Jan 15th, 2014, 11:56 AM
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I know it's not Spain or Italy, but for a honeymoon (if I had to do it all over again)....Provence for a couple of days then some beach time at St. Tropez or Cannes.
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Jan 15th, 2014, 02:37 PM
  #7
 
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Married 15 + years but felt like a honeymooner when we stayed at the resorts along the Etruscan coast( San Vincenzo, Santa Marinella, Castiglioncello and Livorno) this past Sept as well as Florence and Tuscany.
Go for fewer places places but the nicest hotels you can afford with their own beach areas and romantic dinners. You will need to chillax after the flight and wedding hustle. Check the school schedule because Italian schools restart later in September than American ones.
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Jan 15th, 2014, 06:27 PM
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Basque country would be my choice or if Italy the Liguran coast..You might check out any specials that might be available from luxury Hotels of the World www.LHW.com or Small luxury hotels. www.slh.com. You would have to join their loyality club but I don't think it costs $. Fairmont Presidents Club also offers deals and all of these clubs have very nice benefits, like free up grades etc. Be sure to identify the occasion when you arrive and you might be feted with some bubbly,fruit and petit fours. We were on an anniversary trip and had treats 3 times at 3 different places..Never hurts to advertise your situation and the management usually steps up to the occasion. Good luck!!
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Jan 16th, 2014, 01:30 AM
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Another vote for the Basque Country and San Sebastián. The culinary capital of Spain (if not all of Europe), some of the finest city beaches on the continent, beautiful landscapes and a local culture that people take great pride in. European Capital of Culture 2016. http://www.sansebastianturismo.com/en/

Recently voted #5 destination in the world by Condé Nast Traveler: http://www.sansebastian.co.uk/san-se...fth-best-city/

17 Michelin stars in town (pop 180 000), and according to the world's most famous chef the past decade, Ferran Adrià of now closed El Bulli, the best place to eat in the world "in terms of what you can get at any place you happen to walk into".
http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandst...rink.shopping2

Some quite recent articles:
Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/de...lin-stars.html
CNN: http://travel.cnn.com/san-sebastians...erience-736551
NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/07/tr...anted=all&_r=0

A couple of fabulous and very different hotels in San Sebastián:
María Cristina: http://www.booking.com/hotel/es/mari...inawestin.html
Villa Soro: http://www.booking.com/hotel/es/villasoro.html

Close by and vibrant big city Bilbao will make an excellent contrast. World class museums (Guggenheim, Fine Arts etc. etc), fabulous restaurants, nightlife, theaters. World design capital 2014: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4mpM2vGd6w

The spectacular Guggenheim museum: http://www.guggenheim.org/bilbao

Also a wonderful and rugged coastline between Bilbao and San Sebastián with several small and tranquile villages with excellent beaches and world class cuisine (Lekeitio, Ondarroa, Mutriku, Zumaya, Getaria, Zarautz etc.). http://tourism.euskadi.net/basque-coast/
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Jan 16th, 2014, 04:44 AM
  #10
WWK
 
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I would go early September if possible. August is vacation time for most of Europe, and you will find most vacation destinations packed, especially the beaches.

Also if you are flying from the U.S., you might want to rethink the order of your honeymoon, and go to a resort first to relax from the flight, wedding, etc.

One of my all-time favorite destinations is the Amalfi Coast, which is stunningly beautiful, and a world-class honeymoon destination.

If you choose Italy, you might consider either Amalfi Coast and Rome, or AMalfi Coast and Naples, either of which gives you that combination of culture and resort/beach.

Just be aware that beaches in Italy are often gravel. People tend to swim in coves or off the sides of boats. Still one of the most gorgeous places I have ever seen, and that's after five trips to the same area!
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Jan 16th, 2014, 04:46 AM
  #11
WWK
 
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Oh, and I forgot to mention the food on the Amalfi Coast. I am still dreaming about it, months after our trip last June.
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Jan 16th, 2014, 09:33 AM
  #12
 
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In words of two syllables or less.

Go to one place only.

Given your criteria of culture, architecture, food and beach, the only one that really narrows down the choices is the beach criterion and even that depends on just what you mean by 'relax on a beach.'

There are countless nummbers of small coastal villages and town in both Spain and Italy that would fit all your criteria.

I would suggest Porovenere in Italy. For a beach you actually need to take a ferry across to the island of Palmaria but they are frequent every day. Besides Portovenere itself, there is plenty to see and do in the area including a ferry that takes you to the Cinque Terre which is worth a day trip I suppose for most people.

http://goitaly.about.com/od/portoven...ortovenere.htm

https://www.google.ca/search?q=porto...w=1280&bih=687

You'll get more than enough culture, architecture and food in Portovenere itself.

But really, as I said, there are countless choices.
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Jan 16th, 2014, 10:07 AM
  #13
 
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Santa Margherita Ligure with nice walk to Portofino and short train ride to Cinque Terre isn't bad either!
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Jan 16th, 2014, 11:01 AM
  #14
 
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In August I wold look at where you wil get decent weather - rather than 100 degrees with no AC - and have a smaller mob of tourists.

A honeymoon when yuo are sweltering and pushed off the street by mobs will not be fun.
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Jan 16th, 2014, 12:46 PM
  #15
 
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I would also consider one "area". Perhaps get your culture/architecture/food fix in Florence. It's a smaller city and quite walkable. And there is tons to do. Duomo and Baptistry, Galleria Accademia (home to Michelangelo's David), Uffizi (some of the finest art in the world), Ponte Vecchio, Santa Croce (tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, Rossini, Machiavelli, etc), Central Market (food galore and street markets to delight every shopper), San Lorenzo and the Medici Chapel, Boboli Gardens, and so much more! You can see a lot in 3-4 days, but by no means everything.

Then train to Cinque Terra (3 hours) and finish there. Great views and relaxing small beaches.

Some food for thought: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Rev...a_Liguria.html

https://www.google.com/search?q=cinq...w=1600&bih=744

http://www.italytraveller.com/en/r/liguria

Congrats and good luck!
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Jan 16th, 2014, 01:02 PM
  #16
WWK
 
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I love Florence, but never again in August. It was a beautiful but sweltering pit, and we were miserable. If you can possibly wait until beginning-mid September, you will avoid both extreme heat and extreme crowds.
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Jan 16th, 2014, 02:09 PM
  #17
 
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If you are wedded to those dates I would do Switz or Scandinavia - no place else. (Scotland would be good weathewise but too busy with the festival.)
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Jan 16th, 2014, 02:29 PM
  #18
 
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Excellent and relatively cool summer climate in San Sebastián on the Basque Coast. That's part of the reason why the city started to be a summer favourite for Spanish and French elites more than 150 years ago.

Past 17 years statistiscs for last week of August in San Sebastián says daily highs at 72-76F and average 6 hours sun/day. Expect a shower every now and then.
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Jan 16th, 2014, 06:15 PM
  #19
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Wow! Thank you all so much for the responses! It looks like I have some research to do! I have been reading these all out loud to my fiancé and we are getting so excited just talking about it! I will be posting more questions soon - thank you again!!
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Jan 16th, 2014, 07:36 PM
  #20
 
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If you have access to you tube try to get into the videos of Basque country..some awesome picturesto get an overview of san Seb. and surrounds!!
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