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Need Advice! - First time to Europe - London, Paris, Amsterdam and Rome.

Need Advice! - First time to Europe - London, Paris, Amsterdam and Rome.

Old Jan 2nd, 2012, 09:09 PM
  #1  
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Need Advice! - First time to Europe - London, Paris, Amsterdam and Rome.

My boyfriend and I are planning a trip to Europe in September 2012 - first time for both of us! Unfortunately, because of our careers we are only able to travel for 2 weeks. We are trying to fit our wish list into this trip but it may not be doable. We are looking for itinerary advice on if we could visit London, Paris, Amsterdam and Rome in 2 weeks? If not, what would be your best advice for an itinerary for our first trip to Europe and best ways to get to/from each city? Thank you for your help!!
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Old Jan 2nd, 2012, 09:45 PM
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Hello MH - welcome to the Fodors club! There are plenty of people here who can give you great advice; the more information you can give us, the better the responses are likely to be.

For me, 2 weeks would be nowhere near long enough to visit those 4 cities - they are so far apart.

If you fly between cities, allow a full day for each trip - by the time you get to the airports, check-in, wait for flights, collect luggage at the other end and get to your accommodation, that will take up the best part of the day.
So out of your 14 original days, that means 5 days for travel, leaving you with about 2 days in each city.

Even if you take trains, allow at least half a day for transport and arrivals at accommodation.

If that's what you'd be happy to go with, then I'd suggest a hop-on-hop-off bus ticket for each city. This gives you a good quick overview of the place on your first loop around, then you can spend the rest of the day getting off and on at the places that look interesting to you. The tickets last 24 hours, so if you time it right you can also get part of the next day covered as well.

The rest of the time you'd then be able to explore at leisure and get a better feel for the city and it's people.

Happy planning, Di
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Old Jan 2nd, 2012, 11:00 PM
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I agree that 2 weeks is a short time to see all those cities. I'd cut it down to perhaps two cities, maybe Paris and London. Even three cities would be too much, but if your hearts are set on doing three cities, Amsterdam should be the third, IMHO. Rome is too far out of the way to even consider.

However, I'd advise you to stick to just two cities. The above poster is right on the money about the time that's used up in packing, checking out, traveling to the airport, flying to a new city, etc..

If you are like the rest of us here on Fodors, you will want to return to Europe many times, Assume you will do so.

I'd advise you to take flights, which are very cheap in Europe. I'd also advise you to get a guidebook or two so you know what there is to see. I like the above suggestion of the hop-on/hop-off buses. I have taken that type of tour in many of the cities I've visited.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2012, 11:25 PM
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>>I'd advise you to take flights, which are very cheap in Europe
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Old Jan 2nd, 2012, 11:42 PM
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I think all these 4 cities is really doable. I am not sure where you are flying from, but you can fly to London. Paris is doeable by train through the channel tunnel. Amsterdam is also done by the Eurostar.
You would need to fly to Rome, and then if you can fly out of Rome to home.

You could do Amerstam 3 days, Paris 4 days, Rome 3 days, and London 4 days. 1 days is wasted travelling between the cities.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 03:10 AM
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I am assuming you are relatively young. If so, you will return to Europe again. We started traveling to Europe when we were in our early 20's and traveled then and travel now under the idea that is better to see a few places well, then many poorly.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 03:34 AM
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Welcome!as a newbie Ienjoyed a Globus Tour 40% off
affordable-tours.com saw a lot learned a lot easy
good value if you want sort of an overview.ricksteves.com
also good tips and tours for euroewbies.

You can DIY 4 days or so in each place skyscanner.net cheap econo flights booked in advance eurocheapo.com for hotels

aa.com good TA flight deals my wife an I just snagged some
FREE TA flights with them by open/closing 2 Citi AAdvantage
Cards you can get 100000 miles with 2 on a special they are running a GREAT way to save.

Happy Planning!
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Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 05:02 AM
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It's not impossible. You have lots of wonderful things to see and do, check TimeOut site for ideas. Still you can explore most of it! Bring a comfortable pair of shoes so you can walk the entire day. I agree with millie2112 idea, maybe 3 days in Paris instead.

For the London-Paris-Amsterdam train journey you can even book online at http://www.eurostar.com

Enjoy your planning!
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Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 05:11 AM
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MH; You can do it. We did four cities in thirteen nights for our 2nd trip to Europe. Probably lost a full day on trains. So, fly into Rome. Fly to London, [Easyjet] about three hours, plus time on the ground. Train to Paris, about three hours. Fast train to Amsterdam, about four hours. Fly home from Amsterdam. So you lose a day traveling. We were in our 50's and had much fun. OR, as suggested, skip Rome and do three cities by train, London, Paris and Amsterdam.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 05:23 AM
  #10  
ira
 
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Hi MH,

Welcome aboard for your trip abroad.

>advice on if we could visit London, Paris, Amsterdam and Rome in 2 weeks?<

Yes, you could. If you worked it out properly you could do it in under 5 days.

Why?

Europe has been there for a very long time, and will still be there for your next visit.

I think that a week in London followed by a week in Paris is the best start for a newbie.

Fly into London, take the train to Paris, fly home.

Enjoy your planning.

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Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 08:12 AM
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You come upon the age old debate of 'seein'g a place versus 'being' in a place, which often also involves differing styles of travel.

Here is what I would do before keeping all destinations or removing some.

You need to create a chart on a peice of paper with eahc day of your trip. Then put in where you will be each day of the trip.

Now comes the detailed part, which will help make your final decision.

Day 1 is London. But is it really? First, you land, get through customer take cab/Tube/train to hotel, check-in lunch. By the time all of this is done, you've lost half a day. Secondo...on the first day you will probably feel like crap becasue iof jet lag, so ambitious plans...

Last day...not much happening on this one, need to get to airport, so remove from list.

Day x... Eurostar to Paris..by the time you get to hotel in Paris another half day is gone. Similarly for Paris to Amsterdam.

If you were to fly from Amsterdam to Rome, need to get to airport,etc..then to hotel in Rome..another half-day.

Build this into your spreadsheet...then look at the 'actual' amount of time you have in each city. In parallel, have a list of the major things you would like to see in each place. Is there enough time? For example, yo umight find that you have 2 days of stuff in Amsterdam, but 5 in Paris. So you start re-configuring.

Know that you will not see everything in London, Paris or Rome on a trip like this. There is so much to see in each city, that many people here who have been to these places have not yet 'seen it all'.

lastly, and this is more of style question, when you travel do you like seeing places, or lingering, soaking up the atmosphere,etc..
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Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 08:31 AM
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twk
 
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When I have two weeks, I like to spend a week in one place, then move around a little more the following week. Spending a week in one place opens up the possibility of renting an apartment, rather than staying in a hotel, B&B, or hostel, which lots of folks find desirable (an apartment gives you a place to relax and unwind, rather than merely a place to sleep). I would spend a week in Paris or London, the split the second week between the other destination and Amerstam (flying open jaw, so no back tracking).
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Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 11:41 AM
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I would like to take a different approach. It is all well and good for folks to say you will return, but you never know what life will bring. So, what is the one place you feel you must see before you die? Start there and spend your time in and around it.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 12:38 PM
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I think you have to drop either Amsterdam or London or Italy to make it relaxed enough in your time frame. And if going to big cities mainly by all means take the train - cars are a complete hassle in Rome, Florence, Venice (obviously), Paris, London and Amsterdam - for lots of great info on planning a European rail trip check out these IMO info-laden sites - www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com. For schedules I always use the Wunderbar www.bahn.de or German Railways site that has schedules for all European trains and is the easiest I have seen to use.

consider overnight trains to quickly relocated long distances.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 01:33 PM
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I would cut out Rome. I rather like including the journey as part of the experience, and as soon as you throw Rome in the mix, I feel the journey sort of spoils the experience.

There are some really neat ways to get from London to the continent (including one midnight ferry from London that docks you in the Netherlands in the a.m.)and all three are easily connected by train and/or air.

So you can fly in open jaw to London and either get over to Amsterdam and train to Paris or get over to Paris and train to Amsterdam, allowing you some neat stops along the way. Fly out of your last city.

Between Paris and Amsterdam you can step off in Brussels and have chocolate and waffles and beer in the Grand Place. Heck, you could stay the night there. We really liked our food in Brussels and I'd go back just for one of our meals.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 05:59 PM
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How many days are in your two weeks? If you attach the weekends on both sides of the two weeks off and include Labor Day - you could have 17 days (leaving on a Friday night, arriving Sat am and returning late on a Sunday).

In that case the 4 cities are doable - although it will be a rush and you will miss a lot in each of the cities. I did a semi-similar trip - but 16 days - that was London, Amsterdam and paris. We did that only because it was a package that was free (air, hotels and transit between cities). We were happy with the 6 days in London, but thought the 2 days in Amsterdam and 5 in Paris were too short.

But- if you want a real reco - I would stick to 2 or 3 of these destinations - so you have time to do at least one day trip from each city - and have time to do a little relaxing, exploring neighborhoods and sitting in a cafe with a glass of wine watching the world go by.
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Old Jan 4th, 2012, 01:50 PM
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Can you do it? Yes. Should you do it? Completely depends on what you want out of the trip. Four cities is do-able and may be just fine if you are ok with simply getting a flavor of each city and seeing the top 3 "must-do's". I'd advise going for it if you thought you were unlikely to get back to Europe any time soon. I love all four cities and couldn't suggest cutting one out if this was likely to be your only chance to visit them in a good long while. If however, you think you are likely to return in some reasonable amount of time (not the 25 years it took me!), then I really suggest sticking to 3 at the most. Because what happens is, as you start researching what you want to see and do, various excursions and day trips will begin to tempt you and you will really not have any flexibility to take advantage of them -- with four cities in two weeks, there's no way to see Versailles while in Paris, or take the train to Oxford or Brighton while in London. Even visiting Hampton Court would take a big bite out of one of your days. Nevermind all the glorious things to see and do in each of the cities themselves. Also, you'll be hard pressed to enjoy any downtime, unless it's collapsing from sheer exhaustion.

That said, if you do pick three, don't necessarily discard Rome because it's further away. You could easily take the night train from Amsterdam or Paris to Rome and fly out from there; or you could take a day traveling from Rome to Amsterdam and enjoy the scenic Alps. However, beware that trains can be quite expensive and it requires some ingenuity with national train ticketing sites to secure the best deals.

Good luck with the planning!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2012, 06:25 AM
  #18  
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Wow! Thank you all very much for you advice! I was so blown away to get so much help that I have been working on tweaking this trip since I read all of your replies! I am very thankful.

We are now thinking of just keeping our trip in Northern Europe - London, Paris and Amsterdam...Possibly go to Dublin but don't know if that would fit in. I may start a new topic looking for travel advice for those cities.

Thanks again!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2012, 06:53 AM
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Do you want to see only big cities? Then I'd stick with London and Paris, and Amsterdam. I'd forgo Dublin to see all you can in the other three. London and Paris you'll be hard pressed to see all the must-sees in 3 days and then factoring in the travel times and checking in and out of hotels. Also touring can be exhausting. After almost 3 hours at the Louvre, I was ready to go out and have a stiff drink!

I would urge you to take a daytrip outside at least one of the cities. For me, it was a nice break from the crush of European cities which seem more crowded then their US counterparts and to see a bit of the countryside.

The first trip is always the most exciting.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2012, 07:38 AM
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I too think 4 cities is more that doable if you prefer variety to really seeing the whole of the place (you are young you can always return to places).

But would you consider swapping either amsterdam or rome for Dubrovnic using cheap flights? (im guessing you need to leave from a big hun like rome? I have been to all the places you mention (live in london) as well as many other european cities and think Durbovnic is probably my absolute favourite!!. Plus you can easily o over to the island Kolocep opposite Durbrovnic. The weather will be perfect in September imo.

Amsterdam is nice but i dont think i would pick it as a top 4 on a first big europe trip. I went there last year and really really liked it but when i compare it to others i would chose the following above

Dubrovnic
Madrid
Barcelona
Florence
Venice
Prague
(Brugges is also very very pretty)

in fact i would even consider swapping Rome with Venice if your return flight allows..........reason being....

London, Paris and Rome although clearly very different in many many ways are three big grand cities that in some ways are actually quite similar....museums...grand buildings...big shopping...theatre....traffic...subways and it may be a thought just to pick two of these so the rest of the trip is a bit more varried.

Dubrovnic/Venice/Brugges are in my opinion completely unique and different to the grand cities like L/P/R. Venice and Dubrovnic (and Amsterdam) are very walkable so if you are only going to have 3/4 nights in each place might be nicer and you will spend less time on buses/subways

just a "out there" idea..... and is of course only my opinion

Good Luck

Finally, in my opinion i would say definitely do not chose Brussels-maybe it was just me as i know others like it, but this was the most ugly place i have visited. Beside from the main square i really really didn't like it.

Hope this helps!! Have a wonderful trip
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