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Italy, France, Belgium, Netherlands in 20 days (Itinerary check!)

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May 19th, 2015, 06:00 AM
  #1
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Italy, France, Belgium, Netherlands in 20 days (Itinerary check!)

Hello!

My friend & I are planning to tour some areas of Europe in early august and so far we were thinking of travelling to these countries: Italy, France, Belgium and Netherlands.

The plan will be to visit:
ITALY: Rome + Vatican City (4 days), Florence + Pisa (3 days)
FRANCE: Nice (2 days), Paris (4 days)
BELGIUM: Brussel (2 days), Antwerp (2 day)
NETHERLANDS: Amsterdam (3 days)

Both of us have not been to Europe before and are planning to take the EuRail in the above order, starting from Rome and ending in Amsterdam. Please do advice on this itinerary as we are really new to planning a trip in Europe. Any suggestion welcome!


Regards,
Vanessa
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May 19th, 2015, 06:19 AM
  #2
 
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Looks nice. Eu rail is probably not a good deal from what I read. Check capitainetrain.com.
Or national sites. Sncf for france. Thalys runs from Paris to Bruxelles to Amsterdam.
Bruxelles and Antwerpen are 45 min by train you might want to base at Bruxelles and day trip from there.
I would skip Pisa and day trip to San gimigiano or sienna.
Have a nice trip
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May 19th, 2015, 06:30 AM
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I would reconsider your itinerary. Of the places you've listed, which ones are your top priority?

You will lose 1/2 to a full day each time you travel from place to place. 2 days spent in a location really means only spending one full day there. Also, travel between locations can be expensive.

I would try to cut a location or two (perhaps some of the ones where you have allotted two days.)
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May 19th, 2015, 06:48 AM
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For that many trains a railpass - probably a Eurail Select Pass may indeed be a good deal - especially if you want flexibility to hop trains once there not have to arranged disounted tickets weeks in advance - as those ducats are sold in very limited numbers and thus must be booked weeks/months early to guarantee and then are non-refundable non-changeable you are locked in long in advance.

If you're under 26 then you can get a cheaper Youthpass.

Dealing with multiple national rail sites can be flummoxing for novices and can take hours of time - but do your research and if you save tons of money yes - if not much then go for the pass.

If over 25 the pass is first class - a definite benefit in my years of European train travel - so comparing restricted discounted tickets - 2nd class tickets - is kind of like comparing oranges and apples - if you want flexibility to chose trains once there a pass for you may well be a good deal - yes the Fodor's mantra is a railpass is ALWAYS a bad idea but this is oft repeated blindly by others as true when in fact there are many facets to whether a railpass is a good deal than just what is cheaper.

Anyway for lots of great info on European trains check these fine sources: www.seat61.com - great info on discounted tickets; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com.
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May 19th, 2015, 07:01 AM
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Your Paris - Brussels and Antwerp - Amsterdam combination will be the easiest and least time consuming in terms of train connectivity, so I think all looks good there. I would maybe consider adding time in Belgium to see Bruges, or spend a night there instead of Brussels?

Italy will be fairly hot in early August, so be smart with your sightseeing and timing.

I think your trip has a nice pace, and can be easily accomplished. I might structure things differently if it were my trip, but this is a good first taste of major cities of Europe, and you've put a good amount of time in the places that need more (Paris and Rome).
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May 19th, 2015, 07:11 AM
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Do you have special reasons for choosing Brussels and Antwerp?
Consider Ghent instead with day trips to Bruges, Antwerp and Brussels.

Definitely visit Siena from Florence, and combine Lucca with Pisa for a day trip.

Have you allowed for travel time when figuring the time you have in a place? If so, great.

If not, you absolutely need to calculate travel time plus time getting from your hotel to train station or airport and time getting from station to new hotel. Not knowing your way about, etc. that can easily eat up an extra hour at each end of the train trip.
You may find that you actually have less than a day and 1/2 in Nice, less than 3&1/2 days in Paris, barely 1&1/2 days in Brussels, etc. Your trip then becomes quite rushed.
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May 19th, 2015, 07:18 AM
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If you only want a small taste of each city then not horrible. But you will be spending almost 4 days of your trip in transit which is lot.

You'll have 3.5 (jet lagged) days in Rome, 2.5 days in Florence, 1 full day in Nice, 3 full days in Paris, 1.5 days in Brussels (I'd choose Brugge myself), 1.5 days in Antwerp, and 2.5 days in Amsterdam (or only 1.5 days if you fly out on day three)

This is an awfully fast pace.
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May 19th, 2015, 07:46 AM
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You need to lay out you trip in nights, not days. 2 days is 3 nights, 3 days is 4 nights, 4 days is 5 nights and so on. Then you'll know where you need hotels and for how many nights.

And, as others say, you haven't allowed for travel time. Have you looked up the train times for your between-city trips? To see all the trains, don't use the RailEurope site; instead use the site for that country's railroad. The Man in Seat 61 (www.seat61.com) is good resource on European train travel and links to all the individual countries' web sites.

For the faster trains or overnight trains you will need a seat reservation (about 10 euros) in addition to the pass. On French trains the number of seats for pass holders is limited so you may need to get your reservations relatively early.

Each trip requires packing up and checking out of your hotel, getting yourselves to the train station, finding the track, the train trip, then, upon arrival, finding your way to a new hotel, and checking in. And finding your way around in a new city. This assumes you have already reserved hotels at every stop, something I would recommend in August, which is high season.

Lots to do but planning is part of the fun!
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May 19th, 2015, 08:58 AM
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Forget the first day (jetlag) and deduce the time you will need for check in/check out, transfer to railway stations and train rides and you will get :

Roma and Citta del Vaticano: 3 days
Firenze: 2 days
Pisa: 1/2 day
Nice: 1 day
Paris: 3 days
Bruxelles: 1 1/2 days
Anvers: 1 1/2 days
Amsterdam: 3 days
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May 19th, 2015, 10:25 AM
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It's a much quicker pace than I'd go--I'd do either Italy, or Paris, Belgium and Amsterdam, either of which would make a very good three-week trip--but if you can live with the time shown in necker's comment, why not try it?
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May 19th, 2015, 01:48 PM
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I'd make Amsterdam a half-day stop when going between Bruges and Amsterdam and put the extra day into Amsterdam and an extra day in Nice - Nice offers many nice easy day trips and so does Amsterdam

Antwerp is a nice city but one for the average tourist not that much to do for two full days - especially if not into old Flemish art.

With the new fast high-speed rail line Amsterdam to Antwerp Antwerp could be a nice day trip from Amsterdam - one less base one less time to pack up relocate, etc. - saves about a half a day right there.
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May 20th, 2015, 07:12 AM
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>>>planning to take the EuRail in the above order, <<<

Eurail is the name of a train pass company. I suppose you meant you are planning to take trains between locations. That isn't always the best or cheapest option. Europe has many budget airlines that can often be cheaper.

I'm not clear if you have the actual number of days you've stated in each location. Do you have 4 hotel nights in Rome (only results in 3 sightseeing days)?
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May 20th, 2015, 12:32 PM
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vanessa - what kind of railpass are you thinking of - a Eurail Select Saverpass would probably be the cheapest and best for your plans if any is!
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Jun 2nd, 2015, 01:34 AM
  #14
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Hi everyone thanks for your comments!

Yes after reading the comments we do realise that we need to count in nights and not in days, so we are thinking of taking out amsterdam.

So the night counts will be:

Rome and Vatican: 4 nights
Florence and Pisa: 3 nights
Nice: 3 nights
Paris: 4 nights
Antwerp: 2 nights
Brussels: 2 nights

We are planning on getting the Eurail (as we are both youths) for Italy and France, then flying from France to Belgium, but are thinking if there is any other way of getting around these cities instead.

Do any of you have any recommendation?

Thanks so much once again!
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Jun 2nd, 2015, 01:40 AM
  #15
 
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Personally I would drop both Brussels and Antwerp in favour of Amsterdam.
Nothing wrong with either Belgian city, but I think Amsterdam has more to offer you.
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Jun 2nd, 2015, 03:11 AM
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Check out these when in Antwerp;
http://epic-guide.com/antwerp/5-summ...you-cant-miss/

Don't fly from France to Belgium, if you are coming from Paris. Take the train.
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Jun 2nd, 2015, 05:24 AM
  #17
 
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Completely agree with hetismij2 - instead of splitting two nights each in two Belgian cities, spend all four nights in Amsterdam. There's so much to offer right in the city itself - the museums, the nightlife, the biking, the gorgeous canals, the extremely warm and casual Dutch people - and nice day trip opportunities if you really want one more place.
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Jun 2nd, 2015, 05:37 AM
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I, too, would drop Belgium and spend 3 days in Amsterdam and add a day to Paris. Your trip is very fast paced but you are young and it is your first trip to Europe. Many of us did too much on our first trips but you will return and have the opportunity to spend more time in the places you loved on your first trip.
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Jun 2nd, 2015, 06:52 AM
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Just to concur with the others, while Brussels and Antwerp are interesting that are not in the category of the others. And Pisa is just worth a drive-by salute to the tower.
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Jun 2nd, 2015, 07:47 AM
  #20
 
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>>>We are planning on getting the Eurail (as we are both youths) for Italy and France,<<<

I can't imagine this will be cost effective. In Italy, a pass is rarely cost effective. Passes do not include your seats (mandatory for all the faster trains in Italy - 10€ each). Additionally, you can book tickets on the Italian rail website in advance (once you nail down your itinerary) and snag discounts (as little as 19€ for the fast train between Rome/Florence). The prices on the Italian website (Trenitalia) include your seats.

You can visit Pisa on your travel day from Florence to Nice as it would be on your route. Store your luggage at the train station. Florence/Pisa is only 8€ (these are slow regional trains, no discounts, no reserved seats).

In France, some trains/routes limit the number of passholders. With only Rome/Florence, Florence/Nice and Nice/Paris, I can't imagine even a youth pass paying off.
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