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Itinerary help for 14-ish days, starting in London

Itinerary help for 14-ish days, starting in London

Old Oct 1st, 2017, 09:30 AM
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Itinerary help for 14-ish days, starting in London

Our family of four - two adults, two kids (12 and 9) - is planning to see some of Europe in July/August 2018. We will have 14 days, maybe 15 on the ground, plus two travel days on either end. It's cheapest to fly in and out of London - and we can get there on a direct flight out of our hometown - but we're also looking at open jaw options, flying in to London and out of Rome or another city, depending on our final itinerary.

I don't even know where to start, to be honest. I'm researching and have ordered some guidebooks, but thought I'd throw this out to there to see if any experienced travelers have some advice.

We all love active vacations that include hiking and other outdoor adventures, like rafting, but we also enjoy museums and touring landmarks. We're hoping to strike a balance while in Europe, and see the sights while also having some time to soak up the scenery and walk/hike through beautiful locations, or just sit and enjoy a gorgeous view.

We're open to car rental - we've driven across Ireland, England, France, and Belgium before - but are also interested in the possibility of some scenic train journeys.

It's been many years since my husband and I were in Europe, and this will be our kids's first overseas trip. We keep getting carried away, and need some help narrowing down our itinerary. Places we would love to see (but we understand that we can't possibly see them all in 14 days):

- London (just a day or two before we fly to Switzerland, Italy, or Germany - my husband and I have been to London several times, and want to spend most of our trip in locations we've never seen)
- Switzerland
- Italy
- Austria
- Germany

Any recommendations on a two-week itinerary that won't have us changing locations every day? We want some time to enjoy each stop. Even though our kids are great travelers, we don't want to drag them around or wear them out unnecessarily.

Thanks in advance for your help!
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Old Oct 1st, 2017, 12:07 PM
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HI, I've found that if you book an airline, like into London and then back out of Zurich, or Frankfurt from the US, for instance, and get them priced separately, it is less expensive than round trip. Why I do not know, but it was for me, and so much easier than backtracking and spending time going back over places you have been already. I like your idea of not dragging the children all over Europe, but a few select places. I would consider using trains, which seems pretty easy to me. I'd mix big cities, like London (Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, city tour) with smaller villages, like in Austria or Germany, Switzerland. Consider the childrens and your interests. I love Switzerland and especially the Lauterbrunnen Valley area. Others will add to this, esp Wengen and hiking above Wengen/Jungfrau area, easy access by lift in town. Also love Vienna, read other forums about this. So many places and so little time to see them all. Have fun planning. Sue
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Old Oct 1st, 2017, 12:39 PM
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Switzerland
- Italy
- Austria
- Germany

In 14 days not practical for all.

Assuming you want to spend a few days in London

you could fly to say Zurich and head for the fantastic Jungfrau Region around Interlaken and ensonce yourselves in a dreamy mountain village like Wengen - so many exciting excursions kids that age would especially love -much more so than museums IME!

Jungfrau Region: toylike mountain trains and thrilling aerial gondolas going off in all directions -glacier-girdled soaring Alpine peaks in full view from your hotel balcony:

https://www.google.com/search?q=jung...w=1745&bih=885


take train to Italy - Venice again great for kids too.

And train to Florence and Rome.

You don't mention Paris but it's only 2 hours from London via Eurostar 'Chunnel' train and from there 5 hours or so Paris to Interlaken by train.

That would be my choice - Germany and Austria are of course neat but I think kids especially would enjoy the Alps and cities like Venice and Rome more.

Trains are stupendously great - check www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com for lots of great info on trains, booking your own train tickets online and where to go with them.

You will not be traveling enough to look at any Eurailpasses but some kind of Swiss Pass could be viable for the Jungfrau Region, like a regional pass, depending on how long you may spend there.
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Old Oct 1st, 2017, 02:16 PM
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I completely agree with the advice already given: the Bernese Oberland area of Switzerland is magnificent (Murren; Wengen). There is a reason why people visit it again and again.

You say you have been to London several times. Why not just skip it this time? My hometown in the States has many direct flights into London but I usually journey on (London is amazing but I usually like smaller towns and villages).

Venice and Rome are favorites of children and adults alike.
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Old Oct 1st, 2017, 05:16 PM
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Thanks so much for all of the feedback. We are working on narrowing down our scope. We were thinking of flying to London because it's direct and cheaper, but once we factor in spending a couple nights in London and then traveling to our next destination, it's really a wash on price.

Now, we're going to try to focus on Germany and...? Not sure how much we can squeeze in if we want to see a good bit of Germany. We're looking at options in Austria, Italy (Dolomites), and Switzerland.

I know we'll need to return to all of these places to experience more of the area, so we're just trying to decide what to see on this trip. We'll have 14 days (maybe 15), plus two travel days on either end.

Thoughts on flying in to Frankfurt and out of either Vienna or Munich? Should we go from Germany to the Dolomites and then on to Austria? Or try to do Switzerland instead of the Dolomites?

Clearly, I still have a lot of research to do. I'm unclear on the travel times and options for getting from one place to the next. Any further advice is welcome and greatly appreciated!
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Old Oct 1st, 2017, 05:53 PM
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Hi again, I've been to the Dolomites and to the Lauterbrunnen valley area in Switzerland (Wengen, Murren, Grindelwald, but not to Grindelwald). To me there is no comparison, Wengen/Murren are gorgeous with Wengen mind blowing with the Jungfrau/Monch over the little village, and lift up to Mannlichen nearby, and unbelieveable hiking paths. I think Vienna would also be a very nice stop, see another forum on Switzerland with Vienna mentioned and many ideas for children in Vienna. Train is pretty easy and fun, with discounts with Swiss Rail, and I think children free under a certain age, maybe 16? Sue
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Old Oct 2nd, 2017, 05:15 AM
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Thanks so much, Sue81!
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Old Oct 2nd, 2017, 06:01 AM
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Train is pretty easy and fun, with discounts with Swiss Rail, and I think children free under a certain age, maybe 16? Sue>

Yes free Family Card got at any Swiss train station means under under 16 always go free as long as adults have a ticket or pass.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2017, 07:07 AM
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https://www.google.com/search?q=jung...w=1745&bih=885

Take a train to Jungfraujoch, Europe's highest train station and a sea of ice and snow and glaciers - ice caves - kids will love it.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2017, 08:10 AM
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OK to follow up on Palen, if you are looking to try to save some $, you might be able to get a mountain cabin in Wengen, check out the Wengen site/google it. I was there in July this year. There is a COOP grocery in Wengen for groceries to cut down on meals out. The area above Wengen, has some huge flat plateau areas (the Manlichen), accessible by cable car up, right in town. They had some little scooter motorized like things that children could ride up there that looked to me like fun, at the top where the lift ends. The hiking trails start up there too. there are also some very nice hotels in Wengen, a bit more expensive, but if you get some meals included and bf is usually included in room cost, it makes life easier. Also a nice little pizza/bar place on main street that was more reasonable cost. Remember this village is just below the Jungfrau and Monch, and side of Eiger. Awesome place. Also some discounts on mtn trains/boats with Swiss rail card. Sue
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Old Oct 2nd, 2017, 08:11 AM
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Fly back out from Zurich, only 1 and 1/2 hr from Wengen, as I recall. Sue
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Old Oct 2nd, 2017, 09:34 AM
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I will have to take a look at all of that, Sue81. It sounds fantastic!

So, as I narrow down our scope, we are thinking about flying in to Frankfurt, making our way to Switzerland (spending 5-6 nights in Switzerland) and then working our way back to Munich (flying home from there). I looked a Zurich and will keep checking options, but right now it's not idea from timing or price.

I just need to figure out the plan between Frankfurt and Berner Oberland, and then from Switzerland to Munich. We have 3-4 nights to play with on either end of our time in the Berner Oberland region. Thoughts and ideas welcome!
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Old Oct 2nd, 2017, 09:52 AM
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*at Zurich and *not ideal

My brain is on trip-planning overload, and apparently cannot handle basic communication while researching routes.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2017, 09:56 AM
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Probably too late to enter the discussion, but I'm going to rewind a little and mention a completely different idea, which of course you're free to discard.

Fly to London but connect right through Heathrow to Edinburgh. Visit Edinburgh, the Scottish Highlands, and the northern coast of England, as far south as York, then back to London and fly home.

There are hikes and adventures, scenic train rides, castles, cathedrals, bagpipes, Roman ruins, Harry Potter sites, lots of kid-friendly activities, everybody speaks English...

With two weeks you could have an active but not exhausting time, it's an easy "soft landing" for first-time visits, prices are affordable, and the variety is nonstop.

Maybe worth a few googles; what have you got to lose?
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Old Oct 2nd, 2017, 10:10 AM
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(spending 5-6 nights in Switzerland)>

I'd split that time with Jungfrau Region and perhaps Lucerne area - nice boat trips on lovely lake and gorgeous city

Or take the Golden Pass scenic train Interlaken-Montreux on Lake Geneva - lovely boat rides, etc.

If going to more than two locations in Switzerland look at Swiss Travel Pass- www.swisstravelsystem.com and www.sbb.ch for details and as always kids under 16 free with free Family Pass.

Golden Pass could fulfill your scenic train wish though those you can take in Wengen/Grindelwad area are as or more scenic but they are not the official scenic train with luxurious trappings like panoramic glass-domed 'observation cars' that the Golden Pass has.

http://www.mob.ch/en/goldenpass/offer/view?id=14

For a real treat book the vaunted unique VIP seats on Golden Pass - compartment right next to driver so you and kids can think they are driving the train!
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Old Oct 3rd, 2017, 03:45 PM
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One more little idea to get less expensive flights. If you know what airline you plan to fly on, find out how far out you can book tickets. You have to be absolutely certain you are all going. Then start checking prices at the exact date or earliest allowed, that is often the least expensive price. Also if you can fly in one city and out of another, try checking prices separately, not round trip. Delta was much less expensive this way. Sue
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Old Oct 3rd, 2017, 05:44 PM
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OK just want to let you know that you are doing the right thing by starting a year ahead to plan a great trip. It will fall into place as you think about it and read all the suggestions. I got my hotel bookings on line, with suggestions from this site, and my Swiss Rail pass/flex pass for the travel days only, over Ebay so that I had it when we "hit the ground" in Europe. Also you might consider a back pak for each of your children to lighten the load for the adults pulling suitcases. I saw a group of about 20... 3 yr olds on a train trip in Switzerland and each had a little back pak that they looked after them very carefully. A day outing going somewhere, arranged by a hotel to give parents a break. Quite a cute bunch. Sue again, I'll go away now....
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Old Oct 4th, 2017, 04:47 AM
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, and my Swiss Rail pass/flex pass for the travel days only, over Ebay so that I had it when we "hit the ground" in Europe>

Ebay? Please explain- did not know you could buy passes on Ebay?
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Old Oct 4th, 2017, 07:06 AM
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Then start checking prices at the exact date or earliest allowed, that is often the least expensive price.

Not necessarily. Often airlines will only release seats in more expensive fare buckets at the beginning of the booking period (usually 11 months preflight) because they don't want to risk increased operating costs (e.g. fuel prices spiking) in the interim, which would reduce their profits.

Once their own costs are better known, and comparing sales against other criteria (historical data, competition etc.) cheaper buckets are made available. Imagine a "U" or "V" shaped curve - high, low, high. That - often, not always - describes airfares. With airfares, early birds don't always get worms, sometimes they get cats.
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Old Oct 6th, 2017, 05:38 PM
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MY ERROR////I got the Swiss Rail Pass from Swiss Rail over the Internet and sent to me by mail, not Ebay. I got the SIM phone card from Ebay. I think I am still not recovered from my 3 week trip to 5 countries in Late July. The Swiss Rail Pass was mailed to me, maybe by Fed Ex, so I had it when we started in Amsterdam and ended up in Switzerland. got the flex pass for only days traveled. Palen caught my error, thanks. You cannot purchase Swiss Rail passes on Ebay. Sue
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