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Honeymoon in Europe (2.5-3 Weeks in June)

Honeymoon in Europe (2.5-3 Weeks in June)

Dec 8th, 2018, 06:38 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2018
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Honeymoon in Europe (2.5-3 Weeks in June)


My wife and I are planning a 2.5-3 week honeymoon in Europe for June 2019. We're looking for some guidance as to where to go based on our interests.

We are a relatively young and active couple looking for a diverse, somewhat off-the-beaten-path but romantic trip with an emphasis on beautiful scenery (e.g. gothic castles, canal cities, etc), good food/dry red wine, exploration/adventure, and a decent amount of culture (less so museums than architecture and history). We're not opposed to doing touristy things but don't want to roar across Europe in the most cliched fashion.

We've been to Italy. We loved Venice and Tuscany. Didn't love Rome outside of, of course, the Colosseum and the Trastevere.

We have a number of cities and places that interest us. We are *NOT* looking to visit every place I'm about to list, but to give you an idea:
  • Amsterdam
  • Vienna/Salzburg/Hallstatt
  • Bruges
  • France - Annecy, Bordeaux, Paris, Strasbourg
  • South Germany (Munich, Rhineland, Bavarian Alps/Fussen or Rothenberg)
  • Prague
  • San Sebastian with Rioja wine region
Any guidance would be greatly appreciated to help us narrow our focus and path. Open to considering other spots too if you feel we've overlooked something worthwhile. As I said, we're just in the early planning stages.

Thanks so much!
jurispathic is offline  
Dec 9th, 2018, 01:57 AM
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Well June is good with just the start of pressure from tourists and of course the weather gets better.

I saw the wine comment

I would look at the Mosel/Alsace/Pflaz/Rhine area as a serious contender. "But where is the red" I hear you cry. Well both the Mosel and Alsace (Ahr also but a 2 hr drive) now have reds (thanks Global warming) and the PN in southern Alsace is getting stonking (I could tell you where). While Merlot is hitting Mosel well now. Both Alsace and Mosel (Berg Eltz) have castles, great walking along cliff sides and in amongst the vines as well as bicycle paths. Mosel has Trier (capital of the Roman Empire for 30 years) and Alsace has Strasbourg/Colmar with a lovely medievel centre.

Of the rest I love like Bordeaux, and it has bike paths but the city is still not a great architectural masterpiece. But the Basque country including Haro, Santander and Bilboa might fall into your area of interest though no canals. We stayed in Haro a couple of years back and dragged ourselves out every night to drink grand reserva at E4 a glass. Some of the posher vinyards are architectural nightmares wonders while many of the towns around show real signs of old stuff. Though I'd not do much hiking in the area, you could hike the coast or go across to Picos di Europa a fine mountain range worth a tramp or two.

If I wanted to reject one it would be Prague, the wine is all white and the place will be packed with tourists by then.
bilboburgler is offline  
Dec 9th, 2018, 08:10 AM
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Thanks so much.

Based on what you're saying, we're thinking of focusing our honeymoon on France and Germany as they both appear to hit all of our key parameters. We definitely want to visit Munich (with day trips to castles and Dachau) and Paris. How would you recommend going about adding the Alsace/Rhine and its wine region into this itinerary? This would help us to decide whether we'd keep the travelling between Paris and Munich, or if we'd have time to add another location (e.g. San Sebastian, Amsterdam, Bruges).
jurispathic is offline  
Dec 9th, 2018, 08:32 AM
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My own view is Munich (Dachau for a wedding... there is a concentration camp in Alsace if you must) is a bit of a dead corner of Europe, but I understand that a lot of Americans like it so please don't take my word for it. BTW Munich and Paris are not great wine areas... (though Paris does make a red)

The tools you need to get around europe are
skyscanner to understand the cheap airlines opportunties
seat61.com to understand the train systems
bahn.de to get the best timetables for trains
rome2rio to get an overview of train/bus timetables around the world

Paris to Strasbourg is about 1 45 on the train. Hire a car locally to enjoy Alsace or hire someone to take you around the area for a day or so (probaby a good way to go), Alsace has all levels of hotel to stay in some are in and amongst the vinyards. But public transport within Alsace is not so good, but Train to Colmar is very feasible and then hire car etc from Colmar. Tourist info will book stuff for you but you may need to chase as the French tend to be a bit slow to snatch an order.

Strasbourg to Munich is a bit of a hike, train 4 hours and a car will be slower as the auto-roads in this area are being rebuilt at the moment. Well not all of them but when one closes it hits all the rest.

Paris to Trier and to Munich is a lot tougher add a couple of hours on both trips as it is a little bit of a backwater on the train system. You could fly to Frankfurt but with all the waiting for flights, etc you still lose a lot of time.

The other coin to toss in the pond is Reims/Epernay where Champagne comes from (not really red) but what a place.

My own advice on honeymoons is that less is more, try and spend more time looking into the other's eyes than staring at an airport clock.

I'm never convinced that holidays need to be city based, have a look at getting out into the countryside, look at cycling, hiking, stay in nice hotels and swim, do all the physical things that make a good nights sleep worthwhile and you will remember it all the better. Doing it by visiting grand squares and tall columns feels a bit wrong. For instance Trier TI will book you a five night bike ride to Koblenz with lugguage moved ahead for you and lots of opportunity to eat local food, smell the clean air, go to bars etc. Similar on the Rhine say from Koblenz or Alsace from Colmar.
bilboburgler is offline  
Dec 9th, 2018, 08:38 AM
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Trains are great especially for cities and a wide-ranging itinerary - cars great for rural places like Loire Valley southern France, Alsace or Burgundy wine areas, etc - for lots on trains check www.seat61.com; BETS-European Rail Experts and www.ricksteves.com.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 9th, 2018, 09:43 AM
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Your list is great. I would just try to narrow it down by your own personal feelings. Do you have hard copy guidebooks? If not, get some from the library. I have never been to any place but Amsterdam and Paris on your list but for me personally I know I prefer the general cultural feel of France, Switzerland (french speaking part), and Italy. I'm just not drawn to Germany in the same way.

Try to figure out which places more tug on your heart for the two of you. That's the trick in picking, not what is better or best, but focus on what speaks to you. & Congrats!!
suze is offline  
Dec 9th, 2018, 04:16 PM
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We've been to a lot of places on your list and the one that jumped out at me was Brugge. We've had two trips there and would go back again tomorrow. The architecture is beautiful, the food fabulous, people friendly and there is good shopping. Also canals for walking and boat rides. The B&Bs where we stayed were wonderful, both have closed down now but Brugge seemed to have a really good range of terrific places to stay. If you visit, try and stay right in the middle of things. Transport is also easy, there are frequent trains to Brussels from other parts of Europe and easy connections to Brugge. You can walk, bus or taxi from the train station to your accommodation.

You mention scenery, check out Slovenia which sounds gorgeous. We had a couple of nights in Piran, on the tiny Slovenian coastline, and that was lovely. I know I'm muddying the waters but have you thought about a small boat cruise to see the Croatian islands? Friends did a luxury cruise that took 16 people max.

I agree that getting some guidebooks from the library is a good idea. I've found Trip Advisor good too, for the lists of things to do in each place. It gives you a feel for what's there.

Happy planning.

KayF is offline  
Dec 10th, 2018, 12:55 PM
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Lots of veteran travelers here say thye did not like Bruges because of the suffocating crowds that have apparently swelled in recent years. But like KayF I love Bruges anyway (and being crowded is nothing new - was years ago when I went there twice annually on business - a key t enjoying Bruges is getting out of the mobbed Markt - main square area which is full of tourist shops, etc. and into the much calmer parts of town that are so cute. And Bruges is a great base for Gent, Antwerp and Brussels day trips. Great to pair with Amsterdam, 3.5 hours by train.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 10th, 2018, 02:02 PM
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If going Paris to Munich Brugges is off the route. I would highly recommend stopping in Nancy between Paris and Strasbourg if you have any interest in Art Nouveau. It also has a magnificent square.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 10th, 2018, 03:22 PM
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Thanks everyone for the very helpful replies. You'll forgive this long-winded and meandering update.

We're still torn on what locations to include in our itinerary, as you can probably guess. Trying to diversify the honeymoon with beautiful canal cities, hiking/biking amidst the scenery, wine, good food, etc. is proving very difficult, especially when trying to balance against doing "too much". I'm debating scrapping Germany (or at least Munich) and focusing more on France and its more immediately surrounding areas to maximize the "less is more" approach.

Here's where I'm at: I've never been to Paris, and while I appreciate it's a bit of a cliche to do Paris on a honeymoon, I feel like we'd be kicking ourselves if we skipped over it. I'm not sure -- happy to consider reasons for cutting it in place or something else and more romantic.

To do something more scenic and off the beaten path (i.e. with opportunities for hiking and biking as bibloburgler suggested), we're thinking possibly Alsace/Colmar/Strasbourg. I could be wrong, but this seems to offer the most similar experience to strolling through Venice, which was our favourite part of our Italy trip.

Loire Valley and Lyon also look like beautiful places but, again, not sure if we should save those for a different trip.

Happy to consider other suggestions around France and western Germany based on our interests. I acknowledge, with thanks, that some of you have already offered some ideas on that front.

Now, for our interests in food and [red] wine, things get extra challenging. My wife is interested in the foodie paradise of San Sebastian together with the Rioja wine region, but that's so out of the way that I worry traveling between north Spain and France is going to cause logistical issues and more moving around/traveling than is desirable.

France has, I'm sure, good food together with red wine, especially in Burgundy and Bordeaux, with the latter having the better reputation but the less interesting location. Still kind of lost on that front to be perfectly honest, as Bordeaux is equally out of the way.

Bruges and Amsterdam are still in the running but I think the fact that we'll be missing the Tulip season (i.e. Lisse) has made my wife reconsider the worth of including Amsterdam, although she previously expressed a serious interest in visiting there and I'd imagine it wouldn't take her much to put it back on her list. Bruges seems kind of redundant with what we're already considering but it's not off the table just yet.

Prague is off our list, as is any visits to concentration camps. Not sure what we were thinking there.
jurispathic is offline  
Dec 10th, 2018, 03:35 PM
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Do not skip Paris.

If you only did France and Spain, a couple places each, that would work fine.
suze is offline  
Dec 10th, 2018, 10:04 PM
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I must be one of very few who don't like Paris much so I would say 'skip Paris' and you'll still have a wonderful honeymoon. I've been there at least 5 or 6 times and it has it's good points but also bad. It has a reputation of being romantic but I don't see it.

To try and narrow things down, how about you each choose one thing you want on your honeymoon - e.g. good food and hiking, or red wine and scenery - and just go with that. Then you would end up with two places to visit which is more manageable and restful.

I also think Venice is nothing like Alsace/Colmar/Strasbourg. Both nice but quite different.

KayF is offline  
Dec 10th, 2018, 10:20 PM
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I have been to most places you mentioned.
Here is my take on your categories:
Beautiful scenery - Switzerland (sorry, not on your list), Hallstatt, Annecy
Castles - The German imperial palaces = Schloss, are opulent and magnificent. The castles along Rhine and Mosel are mostly fortresses = Burg, and look more practical. Alsace has a fine mountaintop castle, Haut-Koenigsbourg.
>>> we're thinking possibly Alsace/Colmar/Strasbourg. I could be wrong, but this seems to offer the most similar experience to strolling through Venice, which was our favourite part of our Italy trip.
The canals in Strasbourg feel more industrial than Venice. Colmar canal network is rather small. Neither compares to the extent and the charm of Venice. Next to Venice, I liked Bruges as a canal city. Bruges swells on weekend and during day time. Try to visit during the weekday for less crowd and less expensive accommodations and for a romantic moment, wonder around the center before the mass tour groups pour in or after they have left. During the day I stayed on the periphery or visited Ghent. The 2008 movie In Bruges has a bonus material on disc which shows a canal trip through city which would make you want to do that canal tour early in the morning.

If you want to connect San Sebastian to France, Bordeaux is not far by ground. If you want to connect to Paris, you might as well visit Bilbao then fly to Paris.

Prague is a glittering beautiful old city. Because it is still a relatively cheap city to visit, it seems to attract huge number of tourists. It would be a romantic city if you can visit at a time you can avoid the mass tourism. June is a high season.
greg is offline  
Dec 10th, 2018, 11:07 PM
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Venice is Unique, end of.

It's tough, very little is like Venice, though some parts of the low-countries do pretty well in some of their old towns which used them as military "walls" rather than say "roads" which is what happens in Venice. You do get transport canals say in the north of Paris but in most cases you will not want to visit them. I've been to Bruges and Strasbourg and in Strasbourg cycled down some of the canals but I admit comparisons of canals was not high on my list.

If you want to choose a low countries canal then I'd use google maps, focus on an old town and zoom down to what looks to me eyes as a "wall pattern" and you'll see canals. Bruges, if you want to get an idea, watch the film "in Bruges".

Burgundy is an easy train ride from Paris, northern Burgundy Chablis/Auxerre/Irancy is very pretty and relatively quiet form a tourist point of view. Southern Burgundy you might base in Beaune.
bilboburgler is offline  
Dec 11th, 2018, 09:07 AM
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Paris, Bruges and Amsterdam would be sweet- relatively little travel and 3 of the best laces in Europe IMO. Could srart in London and take Eurostar train to Paris - do day trips from each base.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 11th, 2018, 02:14 PM
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You sure you don't want to go to Venice again? I think Paris/Venice would be a stunningly romantic honeymoon.
suze is offline  
Dec 12th, 2018, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by jurispathic View Post
Thanks everyone for the very helpful replies. You'll forgive this long-winded and meandering update.
France has, I'm sure, good food together with red wine, especially in Burgundy and Bordeaux, with the latter having the better reputation but the less interesting location. Still kind of lost on that front to be perfectly honest, as Bordeaux is equally out of the way.

Not per se.
My cellar is made wit 30% of Rhône valley, 20% Provence, 10% of Bourgogne, nearly no Bordeaux, the rest being Spanish or Portugese wines, some Loire, some Dordogne, etc etc. It used to be said about 50 years ago that there were basically Bordeaux and Burgundy. Not true anymore.
thibaut is offline  
Dec 12th, 2018, 07:59 AM
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I have to agree with thibaut, silly Chinese/American prices on Bordeaux and Borgogne means that other areas have developed. The whole region from the Eastern Spanish border up to Minervois is a red wine paradise and very good value. Rhone is another, though prices can hurt.
bilboburgler is offline  
Dec 12th, 2018, 08:30 AM
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I don't really understand the angst about wine. You don't have to be in a region where it is grown to drink it, you know. You can drink French wine all over France. I presume you don't think that in order to get red wine from a certain region of France, you have to be in the closest city to buy it.

Maybe there is some hidden idea here that you aren't stating about the wine stuff other than drinking it. And I drink plenty of French red wine from areas other than Burgundy or Bordeaux, in fact. Maybe you will only drink the most expensive wine, I don't know, but even then, you can buy it elsewhere.

I think Bruges is cute enough for a day or two, sure, and pleasant with some sites of interest. I think Alsace area may be fine for you but it is not, in fact, the same French character as other parts of France, of course, due to its history and proximity to Germany, which of course has co-opted it at times. Maybe you don't care about that, and like their wine and cuisine, though, but it's not the same France. But I could see doing that part of France combined with Paris or something.
Christina is offline  
Dec 12th, 2018, 08:56 AM
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Just need to chime in here and say that as someone who has visited tons of European cities (including Venice, which I adored), I still find Paris to be the most romantic of all. Totally fine for others to disagree, but just wanted to provide a counter viewpoint to the one above (no romance in Paris). I'd recommend going to find out for yourselves!

If you have three weeks, I think you could take a lovely meandering trip with three bases:

1. One week: Strasburg/Colmar/Annecy (although I've never visited, I've heard Colmar and Annecy in particular are fairytale gorgeous and - I'd imagine - romantic)

Train to Paris

2. One week: Paris

Cheap commuter plane to San Sebastian/Bilbao/Rioja region (I've actually never been here, so others can chime in to let you know which city to a) fly into and b) base out of for a week . Look at skyscanner, easyjet, air france, etc. for these planes.

3. One week: San Sebastian/Bilbao/Rioja region
Fleur_de_Lis is offline  

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