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One month in Europe with teens--help planning itinerary?

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Feb 20th, 2014, 05:21 PM
  #1
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One month in Europe with teens--help planning itinerary?

We are starting to plan a one month trip to Europe with our girls in 2015. They will be 12 and 15 years old and are fabulous travelers. We'll be there mid-June to mid-July, and this will be a first trip to Europe for everyone but my husband. This will likely be the only trip to Europe as a family before our oldest leaves for college, so we'd like to experience as much as we can.

What I know about us from our travels around the U.S.: we love cities, but we also love beautiful scenery, especially if it involves water. We are physically active and can walk miles in a day, but we are happy to spend hours in a park people watching. We are not above cheesy hop-on hop-off tours. We are foodies and love a long leisurely meal. Or food trucks. Shopping is not a priority. Three of us get motion sickness, but can mostly control it with Sea-bands (I mention this because hours on twisty roads on a bus would likely test the limits of Sea-bands and dramamine). I love beautiful hotels, but can be equally happy in a basic pension as long as it's clean. We've used Airbnb lots and we've always had great experiences. We have no interest in driving/parking in Europe--train or plane only between destinations.

Places we'd like to visit (and I know we can't fit it all in). First choices: London, Paris, Barcelona, Venice, Cinque Terre, Rome. Second string choices: Amsterdam, Switzerland (my best friend's brother lives near Neuchatel in Switzerland and we have an open invite from him to stay with his family whenever we want), Naples, Lisbon, Madrid.

Where should we go?
blackhamster is offline  
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Feb 20th, 2014, 05:42 PM
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I've only been to London & Barcelona (currently planning a trip to Paris and Rome though), so take my advice with a grain of salt. If I were you I'd pick four cities, maybe five. If you're interested in history and fairy-tale like places, Prague sounds great. What about visiting the French countryside?

Here's what my itinerary might look like
London (1 week)
Paris ( 1 week)
Barcelona ( 1 week)
Rome (5 days)
Venice ( 3 days)

OR
London ( 1 week)
Paris ( 1 week)
Switzerland ( 1 week)
Vienna ( 3 days)
Prague ( 4 days)
england1780 is offline  
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Feb 20th, 2014, 06:41 PM
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I think you've narrowed down your choices already by listing your first and second choices. I would cut out the second string and concentrate on which of your first choices are your top priorities. You could possibly fit in all 6 places but that would be pretty tiring. Remember that you lose at least half a day in traveling from place to place. Are there any cities of your top choices that are "musts?" You could have everyone in the family have a vote and pick their top one or two choices. The top four or five win!

Chances are all of you will return to Europe so don't feel you have to do it all in four weeks. You will want to have time to relax and enjoy each other and what you are seeing.
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Feb 20th, 2014, 06:45 PM
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If you've got a month you can do more than 4 destinations - but I would do no more than 5 or 6 - depending on what they are/how close together.

When we plan a trip we try to fit in areas from different cultures - that is we don;t do all Italy - we combine it with Switch or Germany so we have a strong mix of romantic versus germanic - different styles etc. To me doing all of one for more than about 10 days is really boring.

And in a month I would definitely not do all cities - but perhaps 3 cities with 2 other areas that are rural or small townish (and may equire a car).

But these are decisions we can;t make for you. You need - as a group to get some guide books - preferably some with pix and some tour brochures (not for the tours but for the photos and some idea of logistics) and everyone shuold pick their top 4 things they must see and do (not cities but thing - as in Eiffel Tower or Big Ben or the top of an Alp). Then you need to try to string those together into a trip that makes sense.

Once you have identified your MUST sees - if you cme back people here can help with the logistics and their eperience of what works well.

Frankly I would definitely include Switz - and visit the family/friend or whoever in Neuchatel - to get a completely different view of europe than you would in London, Paris or really any big city.
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Feb 20th, 2014, 06:54 PM
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Sorry - do let your daughter do a lot of the research - they have time, are probably great internet searchers and may come up with some things that you don;t think of.

When we went to London and Paris with our 11 and 14 year olds they just adored the Cluny Museum - and went back for a second visit one day when we were gallery hopping. Give them the chance to explore a little and don;t all 4 be joined at the hip every moment. Remember there are multiple ways to break up into two pairs who can do what they want most.
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Feb 20th, 2014, 08:06 PM
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If it were me, I would go to London, Paris, Neuchatel, Venice, Cinque Terre and Rome. You could take the train between all those locations or check for cheap airfares. Personally, I think the trains are more relaxing, scenic and offer a different travel experience than what we are used to in the US. My kids learned to play cards on the train and it's now family tradition. Also, what seems like a short flight always ends up being at least half a day with transfers and the cheapo airlines are pretty annoying. Barcelona may be a little out of the way if you go by train, but replacing it by visiting friends in a beautiful location would be fantastic. It's always nice to know some locals to show you around. My experience traveling with kids is that we hardly speak to anyone else - so it's a nice change to visit friends or family.

Another consideration would be the weather. I've been to Italy in July and it is really hot. It may be wise to start your trip in Italy and move north. Also, sights get more crowded as summer progresses and the European children are let out for summer break. Either way, I'm sure you'll have a wonderful trip!
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Feb 20th, 2014, 08:13 PM
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I will add that Italy is made for long, leisurely meals for foodies.
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Feb 20th, 2014, 09:30 PM
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As has been previously mentioned, you could start in London.
Take the Eurostar fast train to Paris in under 3 hrs.
Paris-Barcelona now has their first fast train--6 1/2 hrs.
Fly from Barcelona to Venice.
Another fast train takes you from Venice to Rome.
Fly home from Rome in the late morning. (Don't fall for a 6:00 am flight.)
That's a perfectly do-able itinerary for a month.
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Feb 20th, 2014, 09:31 PM
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As has been previously mentioned, you could start in London.
Take the Eurostar fast train to Paris in under 3 hrs.
Paris-Barcelona now has their first fast train--6 1/2 hrs.
Fly from Barcelona to Venice on the budget air carrier Vueling.
Another fast train takes you from Venice to Rome.
Fly home from Rome in the late morning. (Don't fall for a 6:00 am flight.)
That's a perfectly do-able itinerary for a month.
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Feb 20th, 2014, 10:41 PM
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Definately get kids involved planning.. I had both my 11 yr old and 13 yr old contribute some research equity into their trips.. Both were asked to come up with three must sees.. Kids can google as easily as you can and they need to contribute so that the trip is a family trip ,,not just a trip you drag them along on.

I would fly into London ,, 5-7 days there with daytrips to Bath, Windsor etc etc.. then Eurostar to Paris.. its 2.5 hours and if tickets are bought well in advance you get the best prices.. I would spend 7 days in Paris..with a choice of daytrips,, Versailles come to mind as a first choice.. and do rent the girls the movie Marie Antionette the one with Kirsten Dunst in it.. is actually filmed at Versailles ( very unusual) and its fun and meant for a younger audience..
I would then FLY to either Barcelona or Rome. I have flown to both, even with airport time built in its still faster then trains.. and a night train to either city is not that fun, unless you like sleeping in a closet and having a toilet down the hall. Flights can be so cheap, in fact cheaper the train if booked in advance. Do make sure you pack light , whether taking train or plane.

5 days in Rome, 3 days in Venice , 3 days in Cinque terra.
OR
4 Days in Barcelona , then train to Nice 4 days in Nice with daytrips to Monaco and Eze or Villefranche and/or Cannes..

Fly to Rome 4-5 days then fly home from Rome.
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Feb 21st, 2014, 02:46 AM
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I agree that it might be better to start in Rome and end in London, to increase your chances of better weather in both places.
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Feb 21st, 2014, 02:52 AM
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If you want to get Barcelona in there, start in Barcelona. Then fly to Rome. From Rome, take the train to Venice. Then take the train to Neufchatel, probably changing in Milan. (The trip through the Alps is spectacular.) Then you could also take a train to Paris, for more scenic rail journeys. From Paris, take the train to either Amsterdam or London. From Amsterdam, you can go by train, ferry, or plane to England.

You can get good bargains on rail travel if you buy your tickets well in advance. For the Rome to Venice (and Venice to Milan) trips, you should buy 120 days in advance, if possible. For the other rail lines, one or two months is sufficient.

See www.seat61 for excellent advice about rail travel in Europe.
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Feb 24th, 2014, 03:49 AM
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San Sebastián (pop. 170 000) in the Spanish Basque Country, very close to the French border, has got some of the finest city beaches on the continent. There are plenty of walks along the beautiful coastline in both directions. Several laid-back city parks, perfect for both people-watching and a picnic. San Sebastián is the food capital of Spain if not all of Europe. 17 Michelin stars in town, but food is king in San Sebastián in general, so it's almost impossible to find a place that serves anything but great food. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/de...lin-stars.html

European Capital of Culture 2016, and recently voted #5 destination in the world by Condé Nast Traveler:
http://www.sansebastianturismo.com/en/
http://www.sansebastianturismo.com/e...y-in-the-world
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Feb 24th, 2014, 06:54 AM
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I'd drop Barcelona out as an outrider from the London/Paris/Neuch/Venice/Rome combo

Rome will be hot so you need air-con and possibly a pool
Trains good for most moves, check out seat61.com to understand the whole process.

Start London, it just breaks through the abroad thing before the language thing.
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