Itinerary Help!

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Jan 4th, 2016, 09:33 PM
  #1
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Itinerary Help!

I'm planning a trip to Europe for a total of 5 weeks. This will be my first time in Europe. My first plan consisted of flying into Stockholm, flying to Italy, flying or taking a bus to Prague, and then back to Stockholm to fly back to the US. However the more I researched, the more I realized I could possibly fit more cities into my itinerary. My main concern is whether or not fitting in these extra cities is worth possibly overcrowding my trip. Any advice would be appreciated! Below is my possible itinerary with the added cities:

3 nights in Stockholm
2 nights in Barcelona
1 night in Nice or Monaco
3 nights in Milan (day trip to Lake Como)
4 nights in Cinque Terre
5 nights in Florence
5 nights in Rome
4 nights in Venice
2 nights in Lake Bled or Ljubljana (Slovenia)
1 night in Vienna (Not sure if I could squeeze in even 24 hours here, so is it worth it?)
4 nights in Prague
1 night in Stockholm

I'm kind of worried I'm going to regret not spending more time in some places.. Would love some advice on which cities I should cut out, cut down, or add more time to. Thank you!
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Jan 4th, 2016, 10:16 PM
  #2
 
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The longer your trip, the more you can and should slow down so you do not burn out about half way.

You also want to spend more time "in" places than getting to them. You probably want to remember places more than airports and train stations. Just getting to all those places will eat up tons of time. You can plow through things, but allow some time for experiences to make memories.

Generally, on such a long trip, avoid one nighters unless towns are very close to each other and moving to a new place saves more time than returning to a base.
One night in a place usually nets about 1/2 day of actual sightseeing time.
Two nights nets a day to a day and 1/2.

Some places need a lot more time than others, more to see and experience, more time needed to get around. Based on that, I would right off add 2 nights to Barcelona and take 2 from CT. Wouldn't go to Monaco at all and probably skip Nice if all I had was 1 night. Definitely don't go to Vienna for only 1 night.

Have you already bought tickets? Hope not. Better to not backtrack to arrival city. Look at multi-city or multi destination tickets (not one way). Fly into one city and back from another.

Your first plan was fine, except for backtracking, but with five weeks, you could do more.

What to cut. . .
When are you going? Some places aren't great in bad weather?
What are your interests? Art? architecture? fashion? food? hiking? sports?
Are you staying in hotels, hostels, with friends?
Budget small? unlimited?
Why did you pick your first places?
Are you big on Renaissance Art or do you plan on day trips from Florence?

Other posters can give better guidance on what to cut.
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Jan 4th, 2016, 10:23 PM
  #3
 
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Is this your first trip outside the United States or your first trip to Europe?

It's hard to know how to give you recommendations on travel style (how long to spend in one place) because we don't know your travel style. Maybe you don't even know it yet? Some of us like to travel fast; some like to travel slower. My style has evolved; on my first trip to Europe, I spent six nights in London and three in Paris. I rarely spend that much time in one city anymore (probably three nights tops, often only one or two nights). But others prefer spending more time. It's a personal preference.

When will you go? Summer? Shoulder season? Off season? This may make a big difference in the kind of experience you have.

Your cities (except Italy) don't really make a lot of sense together. Did you simply add in all the cities (plus Italy) that have ever interested you? Unless you'll never come back, expect you can return to Europe and spend more time in, say, Prague, Vienna, and other places like Budapest, places that are more easily connected by train together.

And...you've got mostly big cities. You could add more time and more stops in smaller towns (e.g. near Prague and near Ljubljana).

Are you planning to return to Europe? If so - I suggest a shorter trip for a first time. Figure out your travel style, learn and have fun on your first trip, and let it guide you to future trips. Otherwise, you might be wasting your time and money.

As for whether you think you want to spend 3 or 4 or 5 nights in Rome or Florence - ? Do more research, see what interests you in those places. Then try to figure out how many days you'd need to fit those things in - also allowing time to relax and explore.

Alternately, you might not stick to a rigid plan. Book your flights and make a rough plan but build alternatives into it. With an internet device with you, it's fairly easy to book tomorrow night's hotel on the fly. Plan ahead and know how to get from Barcelona eventually to Italy and on. But if you get to one city and hate it, leave early...or stay longer. However, this is why it's important to know when you plan to go, because at high season it's a lot harder in these places to change your plans or find lodgings near the last minute. But in September or October? Much easier.
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Jan 4th, 2016, 10:37 PM
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I wouldn't advice flying into and out of Stockholm. It's a big outlier in your trip and if you really do want to see it, it's worth flying out of another city back to the US.

Any particular reason for Nice/Monaco? I haven't been yet, but I will be using it as a base for the Cote D'Azur. If you are just using it as a way to get from Barcelona to Milan by train, I'd skip it as you won't get more than an evening there and add that extra night to Barcelona.

From Barcelona fly to Rome and then make your way north... Rome -> Florence -> CT -> Milan -> Venice. If you're planning to make a day trip to Pisa from Florence, I'd recommend visiting Pisa on the way from Florence to CT instead (store your luggage at the station - I think it was about 4 or 5 Euros).

I can't really think of any easy/direct way for you to get from Lake Bled to Prague and that much time in Vienna isn't really enough (you'd only have a few hours of the evening in Vienna). My suggestion is to either drop Prague and use those extra 5 nights in any other places of interest you might have in Spain/Italy/Sweden or drop Barcelona and spend some extra time in Vienna.
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Jan 4th, 2016, 11:01 PM
  #5
kja
 
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It sounds to me like your instincts are correct -- I think you'll regret not spending more time in some places.

This itinerary is WAY too rushed for me, but only you can decide what to skip. I recommend that you get some good guidebooks (or spend some time with a few in your local library), identify the things you most want to see in each location, check their opening/closing times, and mark them on a calendar. Then pencil in your transportation, add some time on either side (for getting to/from your lodging, checking in/out, packing/unpacking, getting oriented, etc.). Then see how things fit together. I think you'll find that Sassafrass has given you some VERY good advice.

I also agree that you should look for an open-jaw flight if you haven't already booked. If you have already booked, try to put all of your time in Stockholm at the end of your trip so you have one less change of hotels.

Hope that helps!
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Jan 4th, 2016, 11:27 PM
  #6
 
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Cut back one day from Florence, Venice, Cinque Terre, and Prague. Also, if you can't fit in more time in Nice or Monaco, take it out, and use the above days to go to Paris. If you have never been to Europe or France you need to see Paris.

Of course, highly suggest this no earlier than the Spring.

Have fun.

Laura
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Jan 5th, 2016, 12:00 AM
  #7
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Thank you for your responses! The reasoning behind Stockholm is that I found a plane ticket flying into there for $300 round trip on Black Friday that was a little hard to pass up. My Grandparents on one side are immigrants from Sweden, so I've always wanted to go there. Italy has always been on the top of my bucket list and I was already planning a trip there for when I graduate college in May, so the plane ticket going on sale was just kind of my starting point. The rest of the cities I kind of just pieced together by looking up cheap flights, but I do think that I'm going to trim my itinerary down quite a bit and just doing Stockholm -> Barcelona -> Italy -> Prague -> Stockholm. Still kind of random cities but not bad to piece together with cheap flights! I should have mentioned that I will be traveling from the middle of May until the end of June, staying in Hostels and being as budget conscious as possible. This will be my first solo trip and first really big trip period, but I have a feeling I would rather spend a lot of time in each city.
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Jan 5th, 2016, 04:32 AM
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Very good! The price was great!
Now, how much time in each place, and where in Italy?
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Jan 5th, 2016, 05:05 AM
  #9
 
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Five weeks is substantial time and doing 4 or 5 cities will give you time to do some day trips into the countryside - or to add some countryside (perhaps in Tuscany) to your itinerary.

I would figure the minimum is:

Stockholm: 7 nights
Barcelona: 5 nights
Italy: Rome 5 nights, Florence/Tuscany 6/7 nights
Prague: 6 nights

You can use a couple of extra days to see some countryside near any of these cities.
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Jan 5th, 2016, 04:48 PM
  #10
kja
 
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I don't think you'll regret paring your trip back down! You can always add day trips from your base destinations.
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Jan 6th, 2016, 07:50 PM
  #11
 
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I haven't been to all the places you are visiting. But, my 2 cents.

2 days is good for Venice (I LOVE Venice, but there isn't that much to do)
2 days in Florence (unless you're into museums)
GO TO PARIS!!
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Jan 11th, 2016, 05:37 PM
  #12
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This almost seems like a dumb question because everyone seems to love Paris... But it's never been a city that really interested me all that much. I could potentially make some cuts and add about 3 nights in Paris, while still feeling good about the amount of time spent in the rest of the cities. Is Paris really all that worth it?

Planning an itinerary is so difficult!
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Jan 11th, 2016, 05:45 PM
  #13
kja
 
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I love Paris! That said, I didn't visit it on my first trip to Europe and I don't think less of that trip because I skipped it. This is YOUR trip -- see the places that YOU most want to see, and by all means, give the places YOU most want to see the time they deserve. JMO.
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Jan 11th, 2016, 05:50 PM
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Not everyone loves Paris. I do. (it was the first city in Europe I fell in love with - click on my name to read my recently posted trip report about my first trip back in 2000, if you're curious). Yet I wouldn't necessarily re-arrange your plans just because some people insist you HAVE to see Paris, unless this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

You SHOULD see Paris SOMEDAY, though - it's worth seeing for sure, even if you wind up not liking it that much. I'm glad I saw Rome, but (other than the Roman ruins) didn't like it very much. I would never tell someone not to go to Rome.

I have found that people who claim to have no interest in visiting Paris might have a slightly misinformed view about it. Why would you have no interest in visiting, if I may ask? Some Americans seem to believe that all Parisians are snobs who hate Americans - a poorly-drawn stereotype. Paris is a huge city that gets mobs of tourists. Locals probably get tired of them, especially the ones who show indifference and little respect for the place.

My favorite thing about Paris is the beauty of the city itself - the beautiful boulevards, the elegant old buildings, the great city gardens. On my first visit the place felt like somewhere out of a fairy tale. Seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up the first time made my heart almost skip a beat. (Of course, there is a list of world-class museums to boot.)
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Jan 11th, 2016, 06:08 PM
  #15
 
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IMHO Paris is one of the jewels of europe - and I would switch it out for Barcelona (OK but not great IMHO) in a second. But if you don't really WANT TO go there - and have specific things you want to see/do I wouldn't go to Paris just because people tell you to.
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Jan 12th, 2016, 11:00 AM
  #16
 
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No, you do not need to add Paris!

I think your idea of:

Stockholm -> Barcelona -> Italy -> Prague -> Stockholm
is just right.

By "Italy" are you still trying to do the 5 different cities there?

If yes, that's still 8 stops in your 5 weeks, which is OK.
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Jan 12th, 2016, 11:08 AM
  #17
 
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Don't go anyplace just because someone tells you that you "Must". I've never been interested in going to Rome for some reason.

But I would drop Vienna, it's too much trouble if you only have one day there.
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Jan 12th, 2016, 01:01 PM
  #18
 
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Go where you bloody well want to go. Who cares about the unsolicited off-topic recommendation of someone you don't know?

Paris is what it is but if you're intrigued by other places, go there first and Paris later. (If you're going by yourself on this trip, skipping Paris is all the easier - it's better with an S.O.).

Assuming you're relatively young, you can have a TON of fun in Barcelona and Prague. Sleep . . . not as much.

And considering you're round-tripping out of Stockholm, you can split your "longer" stay, which could be interesting because it will actually be night-time at a decent hour when you arrive in mid-May, but won't get dark until VERY late when you return in late June (guessing you're American, to give you some idea of how far you're going above the equator - Stockholm is NORTH of Juneau, Alaska).
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Jan 14th, 2016, 10:31 AM
  #19
 
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While the flight to Stockholm may have been inexpensive the city is NOT. Something to keep in mind in planning your stays.
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