Need help with 4 week Europe itineary

Old Jan 20th, 2013, 12:24 PM
  #1  
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Need help with 4 week Europe itineary

Hi,
My wife and I will be traveling to Europe from ft. Lauderdale in June . We are planning on going for about 4 weeks or so and would like some help and advice. We're not sure where to fly in but I did hear that Dublin is the cheapest, oh and our budget is $10,000 not including flight tickets. Some cities we would like to visit are Dublin, London, Paris , Amsterdam , Munich, Swiss alps and Madrid and maybe Italy if time allowed! We greatly appreciate any advice !
Thank you,

Dre
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Old Jan 20th, 2013, 12:36 PM
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You are all over the place - sort of hard to give useful advice for visiting eight countries in 4-ish weeks w/o knowing anything else.

What sorts of things do you want to see/do?

$10,000 would seem generous - but all that travel will eat into both your time and budget.
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Old Jan 20th, 2013, 12:57 PM
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hi dresilfe, and welcome to fodors!

there are a lot of people here who have got loads of help they can give you, but we need a little from you first, as jj has said.

other things to remember are the by and large, every time you move, you lose at least half a day. for example, if you are are flying from, say, Barcelona to Paris, you will have to pack, check out of your hotel, get to the airport, [at least an hour for all that] check in [min an hour] fly, [another hour] deplane, get your luggage, get to your hotel and check in. [another hour].

that's at least 4 hours each time. realistically, the most you will manage in 4 weeks is about 8 places and 6 would be better.

the next thing to look at is how you can easily move between places. there's no point in basing your itinerary around flying from, say, Dublin to Madrid on a Wednesday, if there are only flights on a Tuesday.

do you want to fly into and out of the same place, or would you consider an "open jaw" flight? they are often called "multi-destination" trips on airline websites and mean that you fly into one place and out of another for more or less the same price as a round trip ticket.

applying this to your proposed itinerary, obviously something's going to have to go. the following would probably work:

Dublin - London - [train to] Paris - train to Amsterdam - fly to Venice - train to Rome - fly to Madrid - fly home. [you could lose Madrid]

or
Dublin - London - [train to] Paris - train to Geneva - swiss alps - Venice - Rome.

or, or,

you need to get a good guide book or 6, and decide where YOU want to go.
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Old Jan 20th, 2013, 01:19 PM
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I do apologize for not giving more details, I'm in the very begining stage of planning this trip. As of now I do know that Paris, Swiss alps and London are def. a priority, I do feel overwhelm but i will talk to my wife and get back to you with more specifics! Once again thank you for taking time out to reply to my post.
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Old Jan 20th, 2013, 02:06 PM
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no problem, dresife; I think that we all know that it can be hard to visualise a trip from scratch, and ironically longer trips can be harder as you have more choice.

certainly a London - Switzerland - Paris trip should be very achievable in the time you've got.
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Old Jan 20th, 2013, 03:06 PM
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Hi Dre, As someone else mentioned, you sure are all over the place! Having been traveling in Europe since the 70s and just selling our house in southern France, I can give you lots of advice. One thing though, is that you are very late to be planning a trip to Europe during it's peak time, as far as good, reasonably priced hotels go, so you must get your hotels booked ASAP. You can always cancel them as you fine tune things as I do, but at least you'll have a bed you can afford. $10,000 will go very fast in Europe. I love booking.com for Europe.
There certainly is one method of travel that would allow you to cover a lot of territory for cheap price and that is by using EasyJet. You can go one-way very cheaply and we have been using it for a decade now. We've even gone from our French home to Israel, Morocco, etc. As it looks like you want to see several large cities, this would save you time and money that using trains would involve. They are great, good service, on time, etc. The thing is you can only carry 1 bag of 20 kilos & one carry on, so your purse has to fit in it. They don't weigh the carry on (but check size), so I always put my heaviest things in it!
If you only do one big city in Spain, definitely go to Barcelona. Since my hitch-hicking days in 1970 until my last drive down with guests (3 hrs from my house), Barcelona is my 2nd favorite city after Paris. Madrid is very nice, but Barcelona far surpasses it. With EasyJet you could do both easily. Amsterdam is lovely, but not sure why you'd pick Muncih. So many other prettier, more interesting cities nearby, such as Prague, Heidelburg, Salzburg, Vienna, etc. If you used planes, you could then see at least Rome in Italy.
This kind of trip would give you a taste of many countries, and then you can go back to the countries you liked best, rent a car, and really explore the best parts that one needs a car to see.
Lee
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Old Jan 20th, 2013, 03:09 PM
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Me again, Just looked at flights from Paris to Rome in May and you can go one way for under $100 each in a couple of hours!
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Old Jan 20th, 2013, 04:12 PM
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Are you going by train or car. I suggest train for all those far removed places and if going to the mega tourist cities most want to then trains are better than cars, more and more useless in European cities - anyway check out these superb sites IMO for info on planning a European rail trip - www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budtgeteuropetravel.com - download the latter's free and susperb IMO European Planning & Rail Guide for lots of sample rail itineraries (http://www.budgeteuropetravel.com/id2.html).

If not doing the car try to mix some cheap air trips to cover far-removed areas - like flying RyanAir from say Dublin to Spain.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2013, 12:43 PM
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After speaking to my wife , we decided that we will be flying in to London and visiting Paris, Amsterdam , Swiss alps and flying back home from Rome. Would like to try to visit Brussels as a day trip from Amsterdam and if possible would also like to visit Munich but not a must. I would rather not rent a car and would like to take the train to most cities. Just not sure in what order to do the cities? Thank you to all who have replied.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2013, 05:57 AM
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If taking trains to those countries investigate the Eurail Select Saverpass, valid in Benelux - Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg as one unit for this purpose and Germany, Switzerland and Italy - a 4-country pass - from Paris to Amsterdam get a cheap ticket on the Thalys train to Brussels - get off and spend a few hours there - put your bags in a train-station locker and then later go onto Amsterdam - a few hours is enough for many in one of Europe's least pretty (but still interesting0 cities.

check www.thalys.com for discounted fares - France is no longer part of the Eurail Select Pass option so that is the way to do that in conjunction with a pass valid in all other countries that lets you, except Italy, just hop on any train anytime - it is a first-class pass if over 25 and IME of years of Eurailing first-cdlass has significant advantages, especially for folks hauling around luggage - bigger seats, many more empty seats IME and easier stowing luggage - I often put my on an empty seat near me - in 2nd class cars are more often chock full and you may have to fend for room in perhaps already overcrowded overhead luggage racks.
so when comparing pass prices to individual tickets keep in mind the cheapest tickets are 2nd class and the pass provides for 1st class travel and there is a difference Z(despite what some here may claim!)
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Old Jan 23rd, 2013, 07:19 AM
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Just not sure in what order to do the cities?>

Ok how bout:

London

Eurostar ('Chunnel' to Americans) train to Paris

Brussels en route to Amsterdam

Overnight train - CNL Hotel train to Munich

Train via Zurich to Interlaken

Switzerland - Berner Oberland - the literal and figurative highlight of Switzerland IMO - an Alpine wonderland

Train via Milan to Venice

Train to Florence

Train to Rome

Fly home from Rome

In a month not too hurried a pace - do day trips from some bases for variety - like from Florence by bus to a Tuscan hill town like nearby Siena.

From Munich perhaps by trin to Fussen for the world's most famous castle - Mad Ludwig's Neuschwanstein Castle or day trip to Salzburg, Austria (1.5 hrs by train each way) - certainly one of Europe's most gorgeous cities, etc.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2013, 08:38 AM
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nice route, Pal. i particularly like the use of the overnight hotel train from amsterdam to Munich.

for the OP's benefit, which scenic trains would you particularly recommend in Switzerland?
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Old Jan 23rd, 2013, 06:08 PM
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I'm willing to fly to some of the cities but I hear they can be more of a hassle than traveling by train.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2013, 07:47 PM
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fly into London, fly into Amsterdam then train to Brussels, Paris, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and fly home from Rome. Have fun whatever you do.
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 08:01 AM
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I'm willing to fly to some of the cities but I hear they can be more of a hassle than traveling by train.>

And IMO flying lets you see tarmacs and airports and large cities but not the Europe that lays in between say Paris and Rome - to me what is in between the mega tourist cities is as interesting as those cities themselves.
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 08:04 AM
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For reasons of heat and daylight hours, I would prefer to start in the south and head north.
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 08:18 AM
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I am glad you are including the Swiss Alps in your itinerary. They are breath taking, especially after spending so much time in large cities. You'll probably take a train to Interlaken, but don't stay there. Book your hotel in one of the smaller nearby towns high in the mountains like Wengen or Murren. Depending on your specific plans, it might be worth it to get a Swisspass for this portion of your trip. The Swiss trains are expensive but very reliable.

It sounds like you have a wonderful experience ahead of you! The only other advice I'd offer is that you may want to consider adding one other non-city destination. Major cities are great, but they can all start looking alike after awhile. A few days in the countryside or on the beach can often feel like a vacation from your vacation. Have fun!
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 11:10 AM
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I have no idea where msteacher has been in Europe, but the cities you have chosen don't resemble each other in any way. I mean, yes, you can find canals in Paris and buses in Rome -- but let's get real.

Some travelers don't like cities -- in fact, they hate them -- and if you don't like cities, then of course you shouldn't go to cities. But people who plan vacations that they feel like they need vacations from shouldn't be giving other people travel advice in my view. Especially not to add on destinations that would make their trip more running around and rushed. No wonder these people need vacations from their vacations.

Europeans generally do not disdain cities the way Americans do, and thus their cities are safe, have good public infrastructure and lots of green space. They are enjoyable to be in. Unless you hate all cities and tense up in them, they are not the battlegrounds that American cities are.

Switzerland is indeed breathtaking, but don't let tourists scare you into thinking you won't enjoy Europe's big cities or find them all alike if you've been looking forward to seeing them. They are rich in variety, have relaxing cafes, great food and mesmerizingly beautiful things to look at, especially at night. I rarely travel 10,000 miles to go to the beach.
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 01:23 PM
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for the OP's benefit, which scenic trains would you particularly recommend in Switzerland?>

On the route I outlined none of the classic scenic trains like Glacier Express but they could take from Zurich via Lucerne the really scenic Brunig Pass rail route, over which the famous Golden Pass official tourist-oriented train plies with its domed panoramic observation cars and commentary en route, etc.

Otherwise once in the glorious Berner Oberland (Interlaken area) every single ride into the hills like to Grindelwald and especially to Luaterbrunnen and Wengen is as scenic as any really in Switzerland.
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 02:56 PM
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Thanks for your input golden autumn. I agree that Europe's cities are beautiful and have much to offer. I have visited most of the major cities of Europe and have enjoyed the unique character of each. However, Europe also has many wonderful non-city destinations that can be easily overlooked. Exploring a vineyard, biking through the countryside, hiking a mountain, meandering through small towns, or frolicking on the beach can also be very memorable European experiences, that provide a different view of life from that in the big city.
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