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-   -   Need Suggestions for a 21-Day Europe Itinerary (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/need-suggestions-for-a-21-day-europe-itinerary-1471470/)

CosetteB Sep 8th, 2017 09:10 PM

Need Suggestions for a 21-Day Europe Itinerary
 
Hi,

I am from Philippines and my boyfriend and I are planning to have a 21-day vacation in Europe on April 2018 (Spring). This would be our first travel to Europe so your pieces of advice and suggestions would be highly appreciated.

We are planning to explore 4 countries. We would like to visit historical landmarks, museums, parks/gardens, palaces/castles, and cathedrals. We are interested in trying out various dishes as well. Also, we are not backpackers or lavish travelers, just average :-)

First, which of the following are your top 4 countries that you think fit our interests (we are only keen to visit the major attractions):

Spain
France
Belgium
Netherlands
Germany
Czech Republic
Austria
Italy

Next, how many days should we spend in each country?

Third, do you think visiting the capital city of the four countries is doable and would not leave us rushing and stressed?

Fourth, do you think traveling from one country to another by train is best?

Lastly, what are your "What not to miss and what to do" suggestions for each city.

From your suggestions, I would be able to create a very detailed itinerary. Thanks a lot! Looking forward to your responses.

massimop Sep 8th, 2017 10:05 PM

All your plannin will be simpler if you figure out which two airports are the best for you to use flying from the Phillipines & flaying back to the Phillipines. For instance, if you can get a non-stop flight from the Phillipines to Amsterdam, it's worth thinking about starting (or ending) your trip there. In Amsterdam in spring there are fantastic displays of flowers, and Amsterdam also has many good train & plane connections to other cities.

But the main point is to fly into one city & fly out of another in the simplest, most affordable way for you.

Some of the most popular cities to visit in Europe are not the capital cities. For instance, some people would pick Barcelona instead of Madrid, or Venice instead of Rome, or Antwerp instead of Brussels.

You will get lots of different answers from different people about whether visiting 4 big European cities in 21 days is stressful. Some people would be happy to do it -- others would hate doing that. If it bothers you to fly a lot or be in airports, then you would do better to pick a trip where you have easy train rides to 4 different cities. Also, if you pick a huge city like London & only spend 2 or 3 days there, it can be frustrating, whereas some of the smaller cities are easier to enjoy for a short visit.

Usually when people plan a first visit to Europe there are some things they really really really want to see -- like the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum in Rome or the Berlin Wall. If you or your boyfriend feel that way about some particular part of Europe, you should post that here if you want useful advice.

lynda_berlin Sep 9th, 2017 04:03 AM

Some of those countries are not so big (although with plenty to see in each!) but France, Germany, Spain and Italy are all big and full of the things you want to see and a week in each would be the absolute minimum I'd have said.
In fact you could easily fill 21 days in just one of them so I think massimop's question is a good way to start.

April is a good month to travel as it's getting warmer everwhere but still not too hot in southern Europe

PalenQ Sep 9th, 2017 04:09 AM

Fourth, do you think traveling from one country to another by train is best?>

Yes if going to cities as most are want to do for first visits- great sources on trains- www.budgeteuropetravel.com (especially ther online Europeans Planning & Rail Guide with lots of rail itineraries); www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com.

marvelousmouse Sep 9th, 2017 07:55 AM

I think it depends on what cities you choose. Rome, for example, has terrible transit, and involves a lot of walking, and energy, so I was sorry that I went to Paris right after Rome. I loved both places, but I probably would have gotten more out of Paris if I hadn't been so exhausted.

I will say that I think you need 4 nights minimum in the major cities. 1 day for orientation and must see's, day two for more in depth attractions (like Louvre), day 3 for anything you discovered or didn't have time for. 5 nights if there's an interesting day trip nearby. So 4 big cities, 5 nights each, would be about right, but there is amazing stuff outside of the cities- once you start researching, I think you'll discover how short 21 days really is!

I think you need to pick up a few guidebooks and see what would interest you. There are amazing churches, palaces, and museums all over Europe. I did 10 days in Germany and Italy each and I don't feel like the was enough time in either country. Keep in mind that even the smaller cities and towns have world class history sites. And cities like London or Rome or Paris- a whole week would fly by. I would encourage you to look at smaller places too- some of the most interesting sites are outside of the big cities.

But from a history fan's perspective, I would not skip Rome, Florence, and Venice. From a museum fan's perspective, I would not skip London. And since you are presumably on a budget, I would keep that in mind. Germany costs less than Paris and London, but the history is just as amazing.

It doesn't always make sense to take the train. Look at the cost of plane tickets before doing so. There are really cheap flights that go all over Europe.

PalenQ Sep 10th, 2017 07:28 AM

And there are also overnight trains linking far removed cities that can save daylight travel time even over flying. And you save on the cost of a night's hotel fees. Taking one such train can be an experience in itself that you just cannot get at home.

bvlenci Sep 10th, 2017 10:26 AM

<i> Rome, for example, has terrible transit ... </i>

I must say I don't agree with this. Rome doesn't have a great metro system, because there are archaeological gems anywhere they might want to dig. But Rome has a very good bus and tram system, and the bus tickets are very cheap and can be used for unlimited transfers between buses, up until 100 minutes. Some people avoid the buses because they find the bus system confusing. However, you can use Google Maps to plan bus journeys, and to help you find the bus stops.

I use buses all the time when I visit Rome. However, the center is very compact and walking everywhere is not a tragedy. I once took my American cousins to Rome on the day there was a transit strike. It was a very hot day, but we walked everywhere, starting at the Colosseum, passing by the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, and finishing at the Vatican. My youth is long in the past, but I had no problem with the walk.


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