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London vs. Copenhagen, Munich vs. Berlin, and other tough decisions

London vs. Copenhagen, Munich vs. Berlin, and other tough decisions

Mar 15th, 2009, 07:49 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2009
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London vs. Copenhagen, Munich vs. Berlin, and other tough decisions


I recently posted a tentative itinerary for a summer trip to Europe. After reading some of the feedback I got, I decided to revise it a bit to trim down transportation time, but I'm still unsure of which cities I should devote more time to, and which cities I should pass by. Any suggestions and advice would be much appreciated.

Some things to consider when critiquing my allotted number of days and nights:
- I've been to London twice, but each time it was only for a day.
- I've taken a day trip to Vienna, and have always wanted to return. However, most of the forums I've read say that Vienna is only worth one day. On the other hand, I am a classically trained musician.
- My day trip to Vienna was from the Czech Republic, where I spent all my time during my first Europe experience. I don't need to visit Prague, Cesky Krumlov, Brno or Telc (although I would recommend all of those places to anyone who's never been). The reason I'm saying this is because I keep reading forums that advise people to go to places that were not part of their original itinerary, and I'm pretty certain of the places on my list.
- I like architecture, music, art, history, pretty cities, and good nightlife. While I don't mind taking day trips to provincial towns, I want to be based in more urban areas.

My plans are not cemented and open to change. The days I have listed are full days, meaning I will wake up and go to sleep in the same city. Days with an asterisk (*) mean that one of the days will be almost full, as I will either arrive early in the morning or leave late at night. Days where I am traveling mid-day are not counted towards any city, but the nights are. I have a mix of trains and flights for my transportation depending on the distance between the cities; the exception being Vienna to Venice, for which I'll take an overnight train.

Having said that, here is my itinerary.

ARRIVAL IN EUROPE: Early morning arrival in London. Stay in London or hop on another plane to Copenhagen? I'm already at the airport.

London or Copenhagen: 3 days*, 3 nights. Would love to do both but can't, unless I take away days from other cities. My original itinerary had 2 days*, 2 nights in London.
Berlin and Munich: 3 days and 4 nights in one, 2 days and 3 nights in the other. The question is, which should get which?
Salzburg: day trip from Munich.
Vienna: 2 days*, 2 nights. My original itinerary had 1 day*, 1 night, since I'd already been there, with the extra day going to one of the German cities. But I don't know if 1 day*, 1 night is too hectic, and I was advised to shave time off Munich.
Venice: 3 days*, 3 nights.
Rome: 3 days, 4 nights.
Paris: 3 days, 4 nights. Originally I had planned to take an overnight train to Paris, with a stopover in Milan, but I was advised to fly instead to save time. Only one person has said that Milan was worth visiting.
Brussels: 1 day, 2 nights. Considering a day trip to Bruges after my arrival (early train from Paris, check in at hostel, drop off luggage, train to Bruges and come back for the night). The full day would be spent in Brussels.
Amsterdam: 2 days, 3 nights. Considering a stopover in Rotterdam since it is on the way.

DEPARTURE FROM EUROPE: Take off from Amsterdam to London, land at the same airport as my flight back to the States 3 hours before scheduled departure. The timing of the flights, and hence the elimination of another trek to the airport was a huge factor in Amsterdam being the last city on my itinerary.

What do you think? Should I cut anything? Should I go back to the old itinerary regarding any items? London or Copenhagen? Which German city deserves more time? Should I skim Vienna back down to one day? Please help!

Eren is offline  
Mar 15th, 2009, 08:03 AM
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Oh, forgot to mention, the reason that I have limited myself to flying in and out of London is because the round trip flight was half the price of any other European city. Even with the possible flight to Copenhagen and the return flight from Amsterdam, it is still cheaper than any other option by at least $300 or $400.
Eren is offline  
Mar 15th, 2009, 08:29 AM
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I personally don't think Copenhagen is worth 3 days unless you have a special personal connection to Denmark. It's just OK for me and have not felt comelled to return since my 2 night visit in 2002. One night was enough for me but I wanted to take the train to Malmo so I did the extra day. Malmo was just OK for me. Neither are what I would consider jewel destination. I would pend the 3 nights in London or your other cities.

I am a fan of Vienna, there's a lot of subtle enjoyments to absorb of you enjoy the old empire atmosphere and music capital. Great restaurants and museums. Within the last 15 years, I have been there at least 4 times and each time we spent 4 nights. Go for it and enjoy the city. Like you I also prefer big urban cities to base myself.

I prefer Berlin over Munich because Berlin is more like Paris as a metropolitan, very diverse neighborhoods with contrasting feel to them. Berlin is a true metropolitan. However Munich is everyone's Bavarian favorite & only city, it;s the landing city for those seeking Bavarian tourism. So I'd say put 3-4 days into Berlin and use the Copenhagen days for Munich & surroundings.
DAX is offline  
Mar 15th, 2009, 08:31 AM
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I haven't been to CPH, so I can't recommend whether it or LON would suit your interests more.

Berlin is much more in line with your interests than Munich. I like Munich OK and as a base for the castles and mountains of S. Germany, but this does not fit your major interests other than the art museums which you can many more of in Paris, for example.

Then you could consider Salzburg if you like for the association with music.

I like Vienna OK as well, but am one of the people who think a day or two is enough most people to see the architecture and historical sights unless you are going to get tickets to the performances, then you might want enough nights so that you can attend several concerts.

In Venice you can get a good dose of the architecture and history there in two days of wandering (and that may be what you have with your travel time indicated).

For your interests, Milan would be low priority. A city worth a stop if passing through, but not a destination for you, perhaps.

I was a little surprised no Florence with your interests, but you said you didn't want additional advice about destinations.

Brussels to me is OK, but the architecture of interest is rather scattered. I stopped there for an extra night specifically to see the art nouveau architecture and beautiful square and enjoyed myself, but I was glad I had done it because I was flying out of BRU rather than visiting there rather than AMS or another more architecturally interesting city. I haven't been to Bruges.

I haven't been to Rotterdam, but enjoyed both Amsterdam and Delft. Like most folks I have heard Rotterdam is mostly industrial and is OK for a stop, but not usually a major destination.
Kay2 is offline  
Mar 15th, 2009, 08:33 AM
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I would recommend Salzburg overnight or two from Munich to get its full flavor. Salzburg is really worth to stay. I actually prefer Salzburg over Munich except for the fact that Munich does offer the big city convenience and surrounding that you seem to prefer.
DAX is offline  
Mar 15th, 2009, 08:51 AM
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I have been to Rotterdam a few times due to family visit not because I enjoy it that much. It's modern and lacking in old european charm so I would not recommend it unless you want to see a particular museum/symphony hall/cubist building. I would pick Den Haag(The Hague), Utrecht or Leiden before Rotterdam as a daytrip.
DAX is offline  
Mar 15th, 2009, 09:13 AM
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I would choose London over Copenhagen and Berlin over Munich. Unless museums do not interest you, Vienna can take up at least two days.

As for hopping over the pond: I was considering a RT from Paris, but discovered that even with cheap flights from Stockholm (our final destination), the total price of the RT plus one way from Stockholm would be more than an open jaw ticket. Even if you end your trip in Amsterdam, how will you get to London? Are you factoring in that cost (and the lost time) when you say that you would save $300 by doing a RT?
Michael is offline  
Mar 15th, 2009, 09:14 AM
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We had three days in Vienna and loved it, mostly hanging around in coffee houses, museums, and the like. We stayed right near the opera house and got 3 euro standing room tickets for a performance that night, in addition to touring the place. A wonderful and unexpected high point was catching the music at the cathedral on Sunday morning. So IMO more than a day would be well worth it.

Regarding Copenhagen, we really enjoyed a couple of days there a while back, and the lads were with us so we loved Tivoli Gardens; also enjoyed walking along the main pedestrian artery, trying some cafes, seeing the architecture, and having Danish pastry . However, were I choosing between the two and I'd had only a day or two in London, I'd probably stay there and see more of what London has to offer (much).

On the same trip as Vienna we also stopped 2-3 nights in Salzburg and that too was a wise decision, for us. I also think you could shave a day of Munich to devote to Vienna /Salzburg.
annw is online now  
Mar 15th, 2009, 09:25 AM
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Thanks! I'm starting to really like it here, everyone is so helpful. It looks like London is the winner, which is just as well, not to mention more convenient. Maybe this time I'll finally be satisfied with my visit there; the first two times were (obviously) not enough. Unless I get an overwhelming number of replies recommending Copenhagen, which I have to admit looks really pretty, I'll probably stick with London.

According to your replies, along with other research that I've done since writing this, I'll be giving Berlin 3 days/4 nights. I rerouted my itinerary so that I would by flying out of Berlin to Vienna instead of Munich (both flights are an hour), and taking the overnight from Munich to Venice. This works out perfectly because now I have 2 nights and 1 full day in Vienna. I get to enjoy the comfort of sleeping in the same bed twice without feeling like my time there is redundant!

What do you guys think of this itinerary?

London: 3 days*, 3 nights
Berlin: 3 days, 4 nights
Vienna: 1 day, 2 nights
Munich: 3 days*, 3 nights, day trip Salzburg
(I might change this one to Salzburg 2 days, 3 nights with a stopover in Munich, before hopping on the night train to Venice)
Venice: 3 days*, 3 nights
Rome: 3 days, 4 nights
Paris: 3 days, 4 nights
Brussels: 1 day, 2 nights
Amsterdam: 2 days, 3 nights

Kay2, I totally hear what you are saying about Florence. It was on my original list of places I wanted to visit, but when making my itinerary I realized I had to drop it. Otherwise I'd be spending the entire trip in Italy! Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, but that wasn't my goal this time around. I decided to keep a 2-city per country maximum. As far as the reason why I chose to cut Florence instead of Rome or Venice, well, Rome and Venice were both more important to me. I also heard Florence doesn't have much to offer in terms of nightlife
Eren is offline  
Mar 15th, 2009, 10:07 AM
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Okay, I have it pretty much figured out. The only thing that I am undecided on is the combination of Munich, Vienna, and Salzburg. This is one of the only forums where I have seen a majority of comments in favor of more than one day in Vienna. But I have read so many others that don't really recommend it at all, so now I'm really confused! I liked Vienna the first time visiting, but I fear that more than one day a second time around could be better spent elsewhere.

I have my itinerary narrowed down to 3 choices:

Berlin to Munich flight
Munich: 2 days, 3 nights, day trip Salzburg
Vienna: 2 days*, 2 nights
Night train to Venice from Vienna

Berlin to Vienna flight
Vienna: 1 day, 2 nights
Munich: 3 days*, 3 nights, day trip Salzburg
Night train to Venice from Munich

Berlin to Vienna flight
Vienna: 1 day, 2 nights
Salzburg: 2 days, 3 nights
Munich: En route to Venice
Night train to Venice from Munich

What do you guys think? Plan 1, 2 or 3?
Eren is offline  
Mar 15th, 2009, 11:42 AM
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Posts: 12,886
I absolutely adore Copenhagen and adored it so much that I spent 20 years of summers there. I would arrive in June and leave at the end of August. So, I'd pick Copenhagen.

It's a very manageable city that you can walk. And it's great sitting in Nyhavn with the Danes on a nice day, nothing beats it. Danes are a great group of folks. Plus, you can rent a bike and bike all over the city. I biked it for decades. Also take the train up to Helsingor for a tour of the castle and a leisurely walk through the town. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Mar 15th, 2009, 09:59 PM
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I definitely am interested in Copenhagen; it looks absolutely breathtaking! However I think just for convenience and sanity's sake (how many short day trips in London do I need to take before I'm satisfied?) I will choose London over Copenhagen this time. My next European vacation can have a Scandinavian theme, and I'll throw in Stockholm, Oslo and Helsinki for good measure.

Here's PLAN 4:
Berlin to Vienna flight
Vienna: 1 day, 2 nights
Salzburg: 1 day, 2 nights
Munich: 2 days*, 2 nights
Night train to Venice from Munich

In order to make this plan work, I'd have to take off a day from another city, and London is at the top of the list (I'd still have two full nights and almost two full days there). Any thoughts?
Eren is offline  
Mar 25th, 2009, 06:43 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 2,833
If I may make a suggestion for the extra two days, I would add Dresden since you're only a 2 hour rain ride from Berlin. It's a jewel with a lot to see there plus there is a fun national park to hike up or down to the Elbe river. The nice thing about the train is that you leave from downtown and you arrive in downtown.
DAX is offline  

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