Need help planning trip to Europe

Jan 13th, 2010, 10:41 AM
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Need help planning trip to Europe

Taking my wife to Europe for her 40th birthday. Don't mine staying in Hostels for some of the time, but would like to stay in Hotels once in awhile. Like to fly into Rome(Italy) stay for 3 days, travel to Venice, stay for 2 days, from there go to Paris for 3 days, then to Amsterdam for 3 days, then on to London for 3 days, where we would fly home to Toronto Canada.What is the best way to get from city to city? Is this to much to see in this amount of time. Where to stay. I'am on a budget. say around 8 to 10,000$
Please help!!!!
reddog6 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2010, 11:04 AM
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Ok, first things first. You have accidentally put this post into the system as a trip report which is what people do after their trip. Underneath the heading you will see a little grey triangle - click on it and you can post a message asking the Fodor's staff to change it to a 'new topic' which will get you more answers.

Now, I do think you are trying to do too much. The golden rule is that you will lose 1/2 day minimum every time you move cities. I would cut your trip back to 3 destinations maximum. Don't forget you will be jetlagged when you arrive in Rome and will need a day to recover.

There's lots to see in all of the cities you have listed, I'd allow 4 nights per city and slow the trip down a little. If you add an extra day to Rome you could squeeze in a trip to Florence which is only 1 1/2 hours from Rome by train.

Others will be able to help with inexpensive accommodation, however, Italy has great monastery/convent accommodation. will give you some ideas.

Keep posting questions here, you will get lots of help.
cathies is online now  
Jan 13th, 2010, 11:05 AM
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Is that 14 hotel nights? I think with only that many nights/days you should stick to Italy or possibly add one city in another country. You will lose a day of your vacation every time you change locations.
kybourbon is online now  
Jan 13th, 2010, 11:51 AM
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amsterdam paris and london are all just a few hours by train apart now with the high-speed TGV/Eurostar/TGV trains - that said flying into say Lonon and leaving from amsterdam would still be better than having to return to London say and cheaper probably as well.For lots of info on the fantastic European rail system i always highlight these superb info-laden sites:;
Palenque is offline  
Jan 13th, 2010, 12:01 PM
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- Rome to Venice is 6 hours, and Paris to Amsterdam is also around that. Rent a car, and explore more of the areas in between.

- Too many big cities, too little time. I went to Paris and Rome for four days each, and I felt rushed the entire time. Unless of course you don't really care for seeing all the churches, buildings, paintings, etc., in which case four days is enough for just walking and soaking up the atmosphere.

- a more romantic and less hectic approach would probably be focusing in one area. If you focus on Italy, you can do a drive-through of the Amalfi Coast and the Marches, rent a boat and cruise one of the big lakes, a road trip through the Dolomites, enjoying small towns along the way.
kungfufelon is offline  
Jan 13th, 2010, 12:03 PM
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It is kinda like you're planning to start in Montreal, then travel to Ottowa, then Niagara, then Edmonton, and then on to Vancouver. Are you sure you want to spend all that time in transit? Most people would to prefer to pick one or maybe two regions and tootle around locally. Here are some popular combinations.

One week in Rome and one week in Paris. A few daytrips to surrounding countryside each city.

Rome 4 days, Florence (or Tuscany) 4 days, Venice 3 days, Lake District 3 days (fly home from Milan).

In a stretch, maybe Rome 5 days, Paris 5 days, London 5 days.

I do think your budget could support that travel, if you really want to do it. Assuming $2k for flights to/from, you have about $7k left for 14 days, which works out to $500 a day. Easy to do if you don't move around so much, might be harder if you are talking about flying from place to place. (You would at least have to fly Venice/Paris, and for the others plan on a full day of travel (train) if you don't fly. (It is true that good European discount flights are available.)
capxxx is offline  
Jan 13th, 2010, 12:09 PM
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As most of the others sa -- too many destination in too little time. Plus, all that travel adds significantly to your costs.

Many first timers-think moving around is the way to see more. What actually happens is you see less. All that packing/unpacking/checking in/checking out/transfers and travel take up a LOT of your holiday time.

before we can give the best advice what to cut, we need to know if you've already booked your flights.

If not, you can go back to the drawing board and pick which 3 cities you'd most like to visit. (or pick just Italy and 3 or 4 cities there). Also IF you haven't booked flights and if you still want to include London, it will be cheaper to fly into London and home from other cities. Departure taxes/fees in the UK are VERY high.

If you have booked your flights, then you are more limited since your starting and ending points are set.

You have a pretty generous budget for 3 cities, but not necessarily for 5 cities and all the transport that involves.
janisj is online now  
Jan 13th, 2010, 12:18 PM
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I agree with above. Pick one country or two cities. Too much time 'getting there' versus 'being there'. Less can be more
Michel_Paris is offline  
Jan 14th, 2010, 05:22 AM
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I think some people have a mental block about borders, so that when they see an itinerary that includes border crossing, it becomes a no-no -- and then they go right on to subsitute itineraries that, even though they are in one country, they require travel time between destinations longer than it takes to get from, say, Paris to Amsterdam or Brussels to London.

Many people come to this board saying they are spending 3 days in Paris or Rome before moving on to commuting endlessly between "cute little towns" in Provence or Tuscany, and the response is "great trip!" I don't know why 3 days in Rome gets any shorter when your next stop is wandering around Venice.

All that said:


Have you asked your wife about this plan? I would show her this thread and consult about whether she wants to cover as much geography as you've proposed, given all these warnings. If she doesn't, my two cents is to give less time to Amsterdam in favor of either Rome, Paris or London. Adding it to Rome will give you time to get over your jet leg, adding to Paris will give you a breather mid-trip, adding it to London will let you catch up with your energy and end your trip in a more lingering mood.)
stepsbeyond is offline  
Jan 14th, 2010, 05:43 AM
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I realize what I am about to say is a huge no-no to many on here, however, there is something to be said for organized tours, when you are new to an area or new to Europe, and are trying to cover a lot of ground and are uncertain about things.

Reseach some tour companies to see if they offer you what you are after. I favor Insight Vacations as I find that while they are upscale from many others, they still offer very good value for the money.

If you do decide to do it on your own, which is great, then I echo what the others are saying: you are attempting to much. Consider the travel time between cities you want to visit (no matter the border crossings), and research each city to see what all you might want to do there, then decide. Nobody knows your interests (and that of your wife) better than you and her.

Is this a surprise trip for her? If not, then I agree that she needs to be heavily involved in the planning.
Infotrack is offline  
Jan 14th, 2010, 06:24 AM
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I love that you're trying to do something romantic and sweet for your wife, but please please please make sure that she's involved with the planning! If I'm misunderstanding and you've already told her about your plans, I apologize for the soapbox. If you wish to surprise her, please give her a map of Europe or take her to an Italian restaurant and give her a guidebook or some such. I've had friends surprised with a fully planned trip and it doesn't usually go as well as it could.

With that soapbox out of the way, I also think that guided tours can be a lot of fun. I've traveled with both Cosmos and Trafalgar and loved it. This takes care of a lot of the planning, the transportation issue and tends to be some really neat itineraries. These tours have a lot of faster options where you cover quite a bit of ground. You don't have the same amount of freedom but it's a great option depending on what you're interested in. If nothing else, you can use those websites and itineraries for ideas of something you might like to do on your own.

If you go on your own, please consider dropping out a city or two and spending more time in each. There is sooo much to see in each of those wonderful cities that you would only get the barest glimpse of each. You could say that you've been there and see the very biggest highlights but that's it.

Why Amsterdam? While it is definitely one of the places I want to go someday, it's not one of the cities people usually go to on their first (please forgive me for assuming) trip to Europe. If you saved Amsterdam for another trip that would give you a lot more time in other places. One trick is to think about it as saving that place for the next trip instead of just not going. I always try to cram too much into my vacations and have to keep reminding myself that it isn't my only chance and I'll go back. If this trip is a present to your wife, what does she want? Does she want slow and relaxing, a mid speed, or a whirlwind? I tend to prefer a whirlwind where I spend every possible second up and going. Others would absolutely hate that and would much prefer to use their vacation to relax and soak in the wonderful locations they're in.

While your budget would allow you to do a really nice trip, traveling between cities so much can really increase your costs and you spend a lot of time sitting in an airport/trainstation instead of seeing the things you traveled so far to see.

Create a list of what you two really want to do in each city you plan to visit (use google, guidebooks and this forum for ideas). Then guess at how long you want to spend at each location. Be realistic in your guesses. While many here would spend a couple hours in an art museum, if I stay an hour I'm proud of myself. Give yourself more time than you think you'll need. Search the forum for trip reports... how long did other people spend in those sites, does that seem reasonable to you? It often works out to seeing 2-4 sites (in the same city) in one day depending on the sites, time to commute from one to the next and time of year.

Please re-evaluate a bit and then ask again. Good luck!
Iowa_Redhead is offline  
Jan 14th, 2010, 06:56 AM
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Actually, I like traveling that way. When I "travel" I do like to travel about. That is part of the fun.

I would cut Amsterdam this trip.

But perhaps a better way to go would be 3 nights in Rome, 2 nights in Florence, 3 nights in Venice, - night train to Paris - 4 nights in Paris and 3 nights in London.

If you can only do 14 nights then drop one night in Paris. If you can add more nights, make it 4 in Rome and 3 in Florence. There are nice day trips from each location.

You should be able to have a nice trip with the amount of money you have. When we travel we do not stay in expensive hotels. We usually end up spending about $4000 for 31/2 to 4 weeks. That includes everything plus a few souvenirs.
bratsandbeer is offline  
Jan 14th, 2010, 07:59 AM
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The problem is it's going to take quite a bit of time getting between your stops, whether you take the train or fly.

And you need to allow for jetlag. Add an extra day or 2 to your first stop.

So I'd fly into London, spend 4 or 5 nights, take the Eurostar to Paris for 4 nights, fly from Paris Orly to Rome and finish the trip there.

If you can squeeze out a couple of extra days, you could fly from Paris Orly to Venice, spend those 2 days, take the train to Rome, and fly out of Rome. Or train from Rome to Venice and fly out of Venice. (I specify Orly because it's easier to use than Charles de Gaulle airport, is accessible by public transportation, and closer than both CDG and Beauvais.)

Love your thoughtfulness in planning this trip.
Mimar is offline  
Jan 14th, 2010, 08:57 AM
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have you booked your flights yet?

if so, it looks as if you are locked into Rome and London, with 13 nights in between.

as this is a trip for your wife, Paris is the obvious 3rd destination, and has the advantage that you can get eurostar from Paris to London.

how long in each? - IMHO - 5 nights in rome to help you recover from jetlag and acclimatise, 4 in Paris, and 4 in London.

if you haven't booked flights yet, I agree with all the above - you are trying to do far, far too much. stick with the open-jaw format, but rethink where you want to fly into and what's in between.

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Jan 15th, 2010, 07:15 AM
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Thanks too everyone who replied. With this new info we are now planning to fly into Amsterdam for 2 days, train to Paris 3-4 days, fly to Rome(found cheap flight) train to Pisa 1 day, train to Millan 1 day(maybe) and then train to Venice 3-4 days, fly home.Go to London another time.
reddog6 is offline  
Jan 15th, 2010, 07:45 AM
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Better !
Now, if you drop Pisa and Milan and spend all of that time in Rome or Venice it will be even better.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jan 15th, 2010, 07:47 AM
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Unless you have specific reasons for going to Pisa and Milan I would drop them and spend that time in Florence.
Lynnaustin is offline  
Jan 15th, 2010, 09:14 AM
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MUCH better/more doable! Next time plan a week in London and maybe some time in the English countryside.

Now to tweak a bit more. A day trip to Milan makes no sense, and Pisa really isn't that special - except for the tower. BTW - how many days are you planning for Rome?

So I agree w/ Lynnaustin to drop them and either add Florence - or add a day or 2 to Paris.
janisj is online now  
Jan 15th, 2010, 10:35 AM
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This sounds much better. I agree with the others, Milan is a long way from Rome and there is so much to see in Rome that it is a shame to not settle in and see more of it. I do agree that for this trip Pisa and Milan and not worth spending virtually 2 entire days on trains getting there and back.

Could somebody suggest a smaller town close to Rome that the poster might enjoy as a day trip and a change from the big cities. I would choose Florence, but that's because I love it. Maybe Assisi which I think is only an hour or so out of Rome?
cathies is online now  
Jan 15th, 2010, 12:22 PM
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kybourbon is online now  

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