Italy , Greece and Spain

Old Mar 21st, 2024, 06:26 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 12
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Italy , Greece and Spain

My wife and I are in our mid 60ís and for our 25th wedding anniversary in 2026 would like to visit at least two of these three destinations Italy, Greece and Spain. We together have been on 11 different cruises. Never have done a land tour. I have researched both, land tours are a little more expensive, food is limited to certain meals a day. So many dinners, breakfasts and or lunch. We would like to see all three countries realistically 14 days or so would be our max. Cruises are nice but I realize youíre there for a short period of the day. Italy would be a preferred destination coupled with either Greece or Spain. Not sure which would be the most memorable. We are still pretty active however it seems long days take a lot out of us. Any suggestions on our Anniversary journey would be greatly appreciated
patriots2020 is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2024, 07:03 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 4,698
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Are you saying your want to book a land tour and are looking for recommendations? Or do you want to travel independently? If you want organized land tours, I know that Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) and Roads Scholars have good land tours. Rick Steves is another option but IMO his tours don't spend enough time at the destinations. His tours are primarily one night and two night stays, which I personally don't like.

Italy, Greece, and Spain are easy to plan on your own. Trying to see all 3 countries in 2 weeks would be very rushed and not enjoyable IMO. With 14 days I think you would have a more enjoyable and relaxed trip if you visit just one country. Visit the capital city and then some smaller cities and include some countryside. I recommend that you buy some guidebooks, such as Fodors, Lonely Planet, Michelin Green Guide and/or Rough Guides. Eyewitness Guides have lots of photos so starting with that one might help you decide which country.

What are your interests? Art museums, history museums, cathedrals, hiking, beach time, food, coastal scenery, mountain scenery? And what month are you thinking of traveling in?

For first-timers to Italy, Rome, Florence and Venice are very popular. For Spain, if you like history, especially the Muslim ruled area of Spain, Andalusia is fascinating and can be combined with Madrid. Or combine Barcelona for its quirky Gaudi architecture with Girona and Costa Brava. For Greece, a visit to one or two islands can be combined with the Peloponnese Peninsula and Athens.
KarenWoo is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2024, 07:05 PM
  #3  
mjs
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 3,284
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Agree completely with Karen.
mjs is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2024, 07:17 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 12
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you for your response. If we would choose a land tour for us being first timers we would prefer a guided tour. 3 countries is a lot in 14 days that is why we must try to decide if we would rather couple Italy with either Greece or Spain. As I stated we are in our mid 60’s but still get around pretty well. That is why I have researched cruises as well as guided tours to see which is best for us overall. We like history architecture, museums and beaches. I have found pros and cons to both guided tours and cruises. I guess the first thing would be to decide if it will be Spain or Greece with Italy. Very interested in all three but maybe able to do just two in 14 days whether it be a cruise or guided tour. Month would be September, October
patriots2020 is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2024, 07:21 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 1,382
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Are you considering independent travel or is that out of the question? It is easier to go where you want and do what you want independently.
shelemm is online now  
Old Mar 21st, 2024, 07:26 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 12
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We most likely would do either guided tour or cruise for the first trip to the countries we choose
patriots2020 is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2024, 07:35 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 1,758
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
October I'd lean towards Spain. You aren't likely going to the Greek islands then. September you could think about Greece .

The question is what do you want to see? There is no point us giving you our favorites. What matters is what you're interested in. So what are you interested in?
Traveler_Nick is online now  
Old Mar 21st, 2024, 09:32 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,066
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Have you looked at tours? I would think that it's unlikely that you can find one that includes either Italy and Greece or Italy and Spain. They aren't countries that tour companies put together for one trip. For only two weeks, I agree that one country would be best.

You really could do a trip on your own with some research. Sometimes tours can be OK, but Italy tours generally don't stay long enough anywhere and have hotels that aren't near the things you want to see.
SusanP is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2024, 09:48 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 12,038
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You have plenty of time to think this through to get the best experience.

We have also done over a dozen cruises to a variety of places, a few tours and many trips independently. We have come to really dislike tours. We do enjoy cruises, but only for seeing specific major sights or relaxation with family, not for really experiencing Europe. Why? Not because they are inherently bad, but because both preclude some of the best experiences You can get in Europe. On a cruise, you usually have pretty rushed visits and the concentration is on seeing stuff rather than having an experience. The ports are not always near cities you want to visit and a lot of time is wasted getting from the port and returning to the ship. On a tour, you are often eating and sightseeing with your group. Neither offer many, if any, opportunities to really interact with locals or take advantage of serendipity.

One of the lovely things about visiting Europe, beside seeing major sights and museums is experiencing culture and the ambience of life. Evenings when people are out walking, eating in piazzas, children playing while grownups socialize and a musician or two perhaps play near a fountain is IMHO and IME, the charm of European countries that you totally miss by not staying in the towns, villages and cities. Waking up to the sights and sounds of Venice with boats delivering all the fruits and vegetables to restaurants where you will later eat lunch and dinner or looking out the open window of your hotel room and feeling as if you just stepped into a Shakespeare play is a memory you get only by staying in a place.

I will try not to pontificate, but give a few examples of things that happen when you go on your own.
We were wandering in a small English village when a Gentleman asked where we were from. He ended up taking us to his magnificent home for tea in his garden.
Late one night in a town in Italy, we were sitting in a piazza when a happy group insisted we join their celebration. They had married earlier in the day, and were singing and toasting themselves and everybody else, sharing wine and cakes.
We stayed in a wonderful little hotel in Venice. In the morning we opened the shutters on our window to see the Grand Canal and hear Gondoliers singing. My husband went downstairs and called up. Without a second thought, we re-enacted the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet.
In Seville, we were looking at a map one evening when a Gentleman took us in hand and gave us a personal walking tour. Turned out we were both Art Teachers.
On a train in Italy, a lady with a bag of lemons placed several in my lap as she left the train.

Do not be afraid to do this trip on your own. There are people on this forum that live in Europe or travel most of the year or for years. They can guide you with everything from hotels to transportation. While there will be some difference of opinions, most advice you get will be absolutely spot on regarding what you can really achieve in 14 days. Do not be discouraged by it. Believe me, your trip will be better for it. Again, you have plenty of time to plan.



Sassafrass is online now  
Old Mar 21st, 2024, 10:50 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 73,254
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
You are still young (or young-ish anyway ) and have nearly 18 months to plan. I know you currently feel more 'comfortable' going on a group tour. But there is a LOT to recommend doing this trip independently. The 'accidental' experiences like sassafrass describes simply do not happen when you are herded on and off buses and doing group sightseeing/meals. Going on your own will let you visit exactly what and where you want and for how long you want. Plus you are in total control of expenses and can usually do a nicer quality trip for less $$$/€€€ than a group tour. I personally wouldn't want to share a milestone anniversary with 40 total strangers.
janisj is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2024, 07:19 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 4,698
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sassafrass makes an excellent case for independent travel! We have had similar experiences, too. When in Nafplio in Greece, while walking back to our hotel after dinner one evening, we walked through Syntagma Square and there were tons of people out socializing. Parents talking to their friends, children riding bikes, kicking a ball, playing with toys, and a small band playing music. It was so festive and so much fun! We sat awhile and enjoyed this slice of Greek life. Had similar experiences on the Roman Bridge in Cordoba and Plaza Zocodover in Toledo. We are older than you, in our 70's, and I plan all of our trips. There are many extremely knowledgeable people on this forum who can help you if that is what you choose to do.

I keep an Excel spreadsheet for all of our trips. I have compared group tours, such as Rick Steves, etc. Our independent trips are always much less expensive than doing a group tour. We stay in nice places (not luxurious, but nice), centrally located, lovely ambiance. We always eat well; not Michelin starred restaurants, but you don't need that to experience delicious local foods. And we have done everything we want to do on our trips. I've never felt that we had to sacrifice anything.

If you choose to do this trip independently, you can always hire private or group tour guides in some places. Such as walking tours, museum tours, etc. That's up to you. We have done that sometimes, and it's always added a nice dimension to our trip. Some people take cooking classes to enrich their trip, or take food tours.

Last edited by KarenWoo; Mar 22nd, 2024 at 07:25 AM.
KarenWoo is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2024, 07:53 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,598
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Like Sassafras says we have also taken a lot of cruises, mostly with our mom who really enjoyed having the ship take her from place to place. But we always book ended the cruise with a land tour at each end, anywhere from 5/6-10/12 days.

Some destinations call for a cruise, like Galapagos, Alaska and the Norwegian fjords to a certain extent. Perhaps a Caribbean cruise in winter. But Europe needs to be explored in greater depth and your experience will be something totally different.

It isnít difficult at all to put together your itinerary, with so many Fodorites happy to share their knowledge and help you plan. Make a list of places youíd like to see and how long you have, then come back to toss around ideas and work our a feasible plan. Youíve started well in advance and have a lot of time to work it out. Youíll find planning is almost as much fun as the actual vacation, enjoy!😊
geetika is online now  
Old Mar 22nd, 2024, 07:55 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 29,802
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Welcome, patriots2020, and Happy 25th. When you consider that you will lose day one with travel, a day each going to two other countries, and a 4th day returning home, IMO, seeing one country makes the most sense. My DH and I started with a guided tour to Greece; half land, half cruise. Someone else took care of the details where the language barrier was the highest for us. You get, imo, a taste...but such a tasty place!

My advice is to read about the countries and choose one for this time.

​​​
TDudette is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2024, 08:56 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 969
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
OP, I do not want to pile on, but have you been able to find land tours that incorporate the two countries you are wanting to achieve? If not, how would you travel between them? And would you have to arrange that on your own?

I'm not sure where youre from, but if you do any independent traveling in your home country, traveling independently in Europe is no different in most instances.

I have yet to go to Spain and Greece (planning for 2026) but Italy is one of the easiest to get around in independently, especially if you're wanting to hit the "big three" of Venice, Rome, and Florence. Greece also seems fairly simple, too. ETA: Spain seems simple as well, I just fo not know enough to make that assessment.

Give it some more thought to maybe not do land tours. I think you and yiur wife will have an amazing trip.

Last edited by Moderator1; Mar 22nd, 2024 at 09:06 AM. Reason: removed response to a deleted post
Travel_Nerd is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2024, 09:40 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 12,038
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Realistically, both for logistics and for an actually enjoyable experience, it is not feasible to visit all three countries in 14 days, especially if those 14 days include travel time. Those three countries are large and spread out. You will already have two long flights, going and returning. Getting to and from airports these days is tiring and time costly.
Europe has an extensive, excellent train system. It goes mostly city center to city center, so is logistically smart and easy to use. Especially in Italy and Spain, unless you are visiting country areas, you will not need a car. We have not rented one in many years, as one can count on trains for comfort and convenience. You might sometimes want a taxi to your hotel, but it will be a lot cheaper, easier and faster than using airports.

On cruises, you often see one major thing or a fast tour of a town each day. Places like Rome have extensive archeological sites, museums, churches, etc. with layers and layers of history. It simply cannot be absorbed in a few hours. You need a little time in between to reflect on what you see so everything does not become a blur.

Another big plus for independent travel. You can stay in small, interesting hotels, close to city centers rather than larger places that cater to groups. The best hotels we have stayed in were often small, with only a few suites, but no more costly than tourist oriented places. You can stay in one place and take some short, easy day trips. Eating in local places is also a benefit of being on your own. Tiny kitchens, sometimes with a chef who makes only one or two main dishes is a joy!

The question becomes, Do you prefer some sightseeing but also with the experience of being in another country/culture, or are you anxious to see as many museums, churches, archeological sites, etc. as possible in a short time frame? There is no right or wrong answer. You can probably tell I favor the experience. However, we took one cruise because it was an easy way to get to specific archeological sites I wanted to explore, knowing I would not have any local interactions. I would not tour Europe that way.
Sassafrass is online now  
Old Mar 22nd, 2024, 10:05 AM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 12
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
In thinking about this trip we do own a timeshare (home based in Willamsburg Virginia) which once we did switch location to London however we did take a couple of tours though some vendor I believe, but it was neither a booked guided tour or cruise vacation we used a cab to the train to the bus. To be honest if we did that it probably would be a one country trip like Greece only. It would be a lot for us to do that much traveling to try to get two countries in unless it was a cruise.
patriots2020 is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2024, 10:15 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Posts: 371
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Greece is the country where using a guided tour for part of the time might actually save you some anxiety. Outside of the touristy areas, English becomes a little scarcer.

Which country has the most tempting destinations for you? You could add a flight to one city in one other country if it specially calls to you and you’re not sure of another opportunity soon. On the other hand, 14 days in any one of the three countries would be easy and pleasurable to fill.
FTOttawa is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2024, 10:30 AM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 12
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Well honestly Italy would be more interesting to me from which my ancestors are from. But in Italy I would be interested in seeing Rome, Venice, Florence and Pisa which maybe hard to do all in 14 days. Greece which I would love to see the islands might be more doable especially if you can ferry between them

this is just one option we would have if available with our timeshare
patriots2020 is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2024, 10:46 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 969
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by patriots2020
Well honestly Italy would be more interesting to me from which my ancestors are from. But in Italy I would be interested in seeing Rome, Venice, Florence and Pisa which maybe hard to do all in 14 days.
On the contrary, 14 days would be a perfect amount of time to hit all 4 and give them adequate amount of time sightseeing in addition to traveling between them. Pisa is often a day trip from Florence, but you can stay in/near Pisa if you choose.
Travel_Nerd is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2024, 11:02 AM
  #20  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 12
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would then have to see for each country travel time between cities.
patriots2020 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -