London Paris Italy suggestions

Old Oct 16th, 2023, 05:12 PM
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London Paris Italy suggestions

My wife and I are planning a 3 week trip to London and Paris (and surrounding areas) as well as a run through Italy flying into and out of London. Will fly into Rome to begin and or from Rome to London to end depending on which direction we travel. All other city to city will be by train. We will likely do guided day tours where we can just to expedite things but have not found any of the 7 day+ group tours we liked.
We are mid 50s and like an active trip. We like historical sights and art but also enjoy theme parks and rock concerts and zoos as well. We are not going to Paris or London and spend a week in each touring art museums no matter how great. This is what I have gotten to thus far. Liv = Liv Tours
Day 0 fly on to London Day 1 fly to Rome
Day 2 -3 Rome sights Liv(extensive) Day 4 train Naples, Pompeii pm Day 5 8 hr Amalfi Coast boat tour Day 6 train Florence pm Duomo & David tour Liv Day 7 5hr Pisa Liv, train to Venice gondola ride Day 8 7hr Venice /Murano tour, train to Milan Day 9 8hr Lake Como van/boat tour Day 10 Milan Duomo, Last Supper etc 4p-11p train to Paris Day 11-12 Disneyland Paris Day 13 Paris in a Day Liv ( Sacre Couer, Notre Dame, Louvre, River Seine) Day 14 Arc de Triomphe, Saint Chapelle & Le Conciergerie then Palais Garnier & Galleries Lafayette Day 15 Versailles/Eiffel Tower Tour Guy
Day 16 train London British Museum, West End play, Piccadilly Circus Day 17 London in a day (Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey, Guard @ Buckingham Palace, Big Ben/Parliament, River Thames cruise. London Eye? Day 18 St Paul's am 3hr Imperial. War Museum & Churchill War Rooms Liv pm Day 19 Windsor, Stonehenge & Bath Day tour 12-13 hr. Day 20 Oxford, Cotswalds & Warwick Castle Day tour 12 hr. Day 21 fly home from London.
I realize it is a lot and we are not hitting many of the famous art museums. Any suggestions beyond leaving out a country.
That is not an option. We tried to hit city highlights and some scenery as well. I do plan to come to Europe again for Spain, Germany, Austria and Switzerland at least but these are the must see areas for me and my wife. I know some will say leave off Disney and see more museums in Paris or chateaux in the Loire Valley but we like others love Disney.
My wife gets bored of history and art quicker than I do so it is a trial when you are in a region with so much art, architecture and history to balance that with pure scenic beauty, good food and fun activities. We considered the WB Potter tour combined with Oxford but felt like we got a lot of Potter at Universal Orlando.
Any ideas?

Last edited by Eddieaii; Oct 16th, 2023 at 05:31 PM.
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Old Oct 16th, 2023, 06:05 PM
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Welcome to Fodors. We moved your topic to the Europe Forum and added country tags
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Old Oct 16th, 2023, 06:49 PM
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Welcome to Fodors. I have no idea what your thing for Liv Tours. Just a cursory look at their website they look awfully expensive and fairly rushed.

I'll only address the UK parts of you plan. Run --- RUN away from most of the day tours, Liv and otherwise. I understand not wanting a museum-centric trip, but what you have planned is a mad dash past/through 19 major sites in five days. You would actually spend twice as much time on buses as actually seeing anything.

Day 16 train London British Museum, West End play, Piccadilly Circus.

This is reasonable

Day 17 London in a day (Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey, Guard @ Buckingham Palace, Big Ben/Parliament, River Thames cruise. London Eye?

This doesn't work. Just a barely cursory visit to the Tower of London requires 90 minutes. Westminster Abbey you might be able to see in an hour but that would be very rushed. The changing of the Guard is a time eater - takes a LOT of just standing waiting not being able to move. Plus the times don't work since the Guard change take u the entire morning and one wants to be at the Tower just before opening time. Now, you could do the Tower in the morning, Westminster Abbey in the Afternoon and the Eye in the evening. Parliament and big Ben is just a walk by across the street from the Abbey on the way to the Eye.

Day 18 St Paul's am 3hr Imperial. War Museum & Churchill War Rooms Liv pm .
These Liv tours look horrible IMO. BTW - The Churchill War Rooms are a short walk from the Abbey and Parliament so it would make MUCH more sense to do them on the same day. St Pauls is closer to the Tower -- so I'd do the Tower and St Pauls one day, and the Abbey/War Rooms/War Museum on a different day.

Day 19 Windsor, Stonehenge & Bath Day tour 12-13 hr.

Expensive tour with very little time at any sites . . . of the 12-13 hours of the tour - fully 6.6-7 hours will be sitting on the bus. Horrible waste of time/money IMO. Do JUST Windsor or JUST Bath as a day trip on your own by train. A fraction of the £££ and 3X the actual sightseeing time in either city

Day 20 Oxford,
Cotswalds Cotswolds & Warwick Castle Day tour 12 hr.

Another expensive time dump with 6.5 hours butts in seats on the bus. Warwick Castle is enormous and you'll likely have maybe an hour total. Oxford is wonderful but maybe just an hour or 90 mins. Woefully inadequate. And you obviously won'y have any/much time to get off the coach in the Cotswolds.

Day 21 fly home from London.

I'f forget about all those silly tours -- especially back to back to back. And IF the Harry Potter studio Tour sounds like something you'd like . . . DO IT. It is fabulous.

Back to the drawing board.
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Old Oct 16th, 2023, 07:27 PM
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1) Fly open jaw. Either into London out of Rome. Or flip it. Don't fly R/T into London. You're setting yourself up for unneeded pain even if everything goes well. The way you've planned it landing in London and immediately catching a plane to Rome almost assures you of a problem. Odds are you'll be flying into one airport and need to get to a different one for your self connection. Even if you don't a late flight or a schedule change and you're in trouble. Don't court trouble. It'll find you without any help.

2) If you're lucky the Italian portion is going to leave you tired and wandering what if anything you've seen. You're basically going to become an expert on the train system but you won't see much outside of the station. Two days for Rome might mean one for the Vatican and one for the Colosseum. That leaves 99.9% of the city.

When are you coming? Time of year can make a serious difference for some smaller towns. In addition you might face weather issues.
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Old Oct 17th, 2023, 09:06 AM
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Instead of the tours you propose in London, look into London Walks, which we have done every time we have been in London. They do different themes and times and also day trips outside of London. Very high quality guides, very cheap since they do public transportation when needed. And they have snagged the best website name: walks dot com. You will be able to put together a few walks that will cover the things you are looking for, and they give a discount for multiple walks. Each walk has a starting point at a Tube stop and a gathering time. Dump Liv and have fun.

Oh, also: The Churchill War Rooms needs no tour guide and is fascinating. Just make a reservation and go.
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Old Oct 17th, 2023, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by AJPeabody
. . .Oh, also: The Churchill War Rooms needs no tour guide and is fascinating. Just make a reservation and go.
That goes for almost all the major sites. Except for perhaps a general orientation tour in the British Museum, or an excellent verger's tour in Westminster Abbey (which you can't take if you are on a 'commercial tour from outside). The Yeoman Warder (Beefeater) tour is included with entry to the Tower. These are tours provided by the venue -- some free, some for a small fee but none paying a huge premium to a 3rd party to see less.
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Old Oct 17th, 2023, 09:43 AM
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Very impressed that anyone knew what "Liv" was, never heard of it I just thought it was typo

Hey look, how you spend your life is up to you but I struggle to absorb so much information from a new Fodorite. I guess I see that your wife doesn't like some stuff but nothing here tells me the basics
1) what do you each like to do?
2) when are you coming, especially important given weather in the northern two cities?

I've forced myself to focus on just one day and chose day20. But I just cannot help. Oxford has two world class museums, some glorious buildings and great shopping and you are fitting it in with the whole of the Cotswolds and Warwick castle. Frankly I'd drop Warwick castle and do Day 20 over 2 days.

Your visit to Italy, one of the most beautiful countries in the world, looks like a bus drive by. One of the great things about Italy is the Italians and at best you will speak to a waiter..I dare not look at Paris

Last edited by bilboburgler; Oct 17th, 2023 at 09:46 AM.
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Old Oct 17th, 2023, 10:47 AM
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Tbh, my eyes glazed over reading your itinerary. Partly because it was hard to read (paragraph breaks. please) and also because it feels...exhausting. I travel faster than many posters here but your trip would have me needing an additional 2 weeks to recover at home, sorry to be harsh.

What time of year is this? Where are you coming from?

You do not have to go to Europe for art, so not including major museums in your plan in place of things Iike Harry Potter and DLand Paris is fine. And your wife does not care for history as much as you. That's fine, too. But what I do NOT see in your plans is accounting for those interests. Lots of rushing around at historical areas, which seems counterintuitive to both of your interests.

You could not find 7-day tours to accommodate what you're wanting (I suppose that you are wanting 7 days in each country?) but your itinerary reads like a rushed group tour: where you spend your time looking out of a window, stop for photo ops and not actually seeing or experiencing the things you traveled to see.

You can't plan Europe like going to Orlando, which is where each "attraction/resort" is contained in a set boundary of one city/area. Europe is not like that. London is huge and a lot of attractions are spread out. Paris is more compact, Rome even more so; but just because some areas are compact does not mean there is not congestion. As Janis mentioned, some things take hours - multiple of them. Tower of London - half day at least. Roman Forum and Coliseum (if on your itinerary) - also half day, at minimum. DisneyLand Paris - full day, Versailles- full day (not sure if you listed that one). And while Westminster Abbey is smaller than the Tower, depending on time of year, it can easily take 2.5 hours to tour - because of the crowds.

And yes, consider flying multicity on one ticket. Fly to your farthest city first, you may have a layover. Fly home from your last city. You will find that the "savings" for a RT get lost anyway having to get to Rome (or whoever you go first) anyway.

If it were me, I'd do London and Paris for the three weeks. You can slow it down, head into countryside of both England and France a bit more and actually experience them. Maybe even take a cooking class or head to the Champagne region near Paris if that is an interest.. Save Rome for another time to add other Italian areas (Amalfi, Tuscany perhaps) or focus your time only on Italy.

Last edited by Travel_Nerd; Oct 17th, 2023 at 10:51 AM.
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Old Oct 17th, 2023, 03:54 PM
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Just back from a trip to London as well as to Glasgow and Edinburgh. First time back to London in 20 years. You don't indicate what time of year you are planning to visit and although London is now busy all the time except perhaps in January and February, here is my take on your plans. You don't need a tour to go to the Churchill War Rooms or to Westminster Abbey. We didn't book tickets in advance but only waited online for a short time for the Churchill War Rooms as we arrived not long after it opened. They only admit so many people at a time and you are given a self-guided audio tour. With Westminster Abbey which is literally across the street, you are also given a self-guided audio tour which provided a fine tour. We did wait online as had not booked in advance here either but we had also been to Westminster Abbey previously. We did not do the Tower this time having been there before but generally there is a long line for admittance and whenever you do go, you should head first to the Crown Jewels. We did not do the London Eye this time either as we had done it twenty years ago and really it is not essential to do at all. It is expensive and although you do get a good view, it is after all a ferris wheel. We did a boat ride down the Thames 20 years ago that went to Greenwich and I really enjoyed our time in Greenwich.
Years ago we did a bus tour to Stonehenge and Bath. It doesn't make sense to include Windsor in the same tour. We did go to Windsor Castle and St George's Chapel this time and it is easy to get there on the train. I really enjoyed our afternoon there and it was crowded although the line moved. If a busier time of year I would recommend reserving tickets in advance. You don't need a tour to visit Windsor Castle as you are provided with an audio guide.
Most of our trips are art museum focused but we did visit the Imperial War Museum which is very interesting and does take a fair amount of time if planning to visit the entire museum. We only visited the two special exhibits and the Holocaust exhibit, leaving out the exhibits for WWI and WWII.
Finally we bought tickets for the theater at the ticket booth in Leicester Square for Hamilton a day in advance but if there is a specific show that you want to see and a show that is new for this season you might want to reserve tickets online in advance or go directly to the box office when you arrive.
Easy to get around on the Underground and you don't need to buy an OysterCard, simply tap a credit card for contactless payment.
Enjoy!!! It is a special world-class city that has so much to offer. Explore on your own and take a Fodor's Guide with you. It's very helpful
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