Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Seeking guided tour that visits 4 countries, 3 nights in each city!

Notices

Seeking guided tour that visits 4 countries, 3 nights in each city!

Old Apr 28th, 2015, 10:32 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 10
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Seeking guided tour that visits 4 countries, 3 nights in each city!

My husband and I are planning to take a two week long guided trip to Europe in spring 2016. We're planning to sign up with one of the major tour companies, since neither of us have ever been abroad (I've already read the pros/cons of guided tours). We are young, ages 28 and 30. The main countries on our list to visit are England (London), France (Paris), Germany (can't decide which city?), and Italy (both Venice and Rome).

Can anyone recommend a guided tour that will allow us to visit London, Paris, Germany, Venice, and Rome while staying in most cities for 3 nights?? It's ok if one or two of the cities is for just two nights. Ideally, we'd like to spend 2 nights in London, 3 nights Paris, 2 nights Germany, 3 nights Venice, and 3 nights Rome.

Most of the guided tours I found only let us stay in each city for 1 or maybe 2 nights... and I do not think that's long enough to really explore the city! We are active and like to be busy when we travel, but we do not want to be rushed through every single city. We're pretty set on the idea of a guided tour, since neither of us has the time to plan a two week long trip overseas.

Please reply if you've ever seen or taken any tours that fit this description! Thank you!!
mntraveler_12 is offline  
Old Apr 28th, 2015, 10:56 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 10,229
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I think it would be difficult to find a guided tour with precisely the itinerary and number of days you describe in each place, especially with no idea where in Germany you really want to visit.

You might look for two different 7-day tours that move at a slower pace through two different regions. For example, I suspect you could find one tour that combined London and Paris in 5-7 days, and another tour that hit Venice, Florence, and Rome in one week.

Based on your interest in a slower pace, what benefit do you see to booking a tour? If it is to have all the arrangements made for you, you might look into independent tours through a variety of companies. For these, your flights, hotels, and transportation between cities are all arranged, but you are on your own to explore each location.
ellenem is offline  
Old Apr 28th, 2015, 10:59 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,561
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
>

Yeah . . . that's not going to work with your parameters. The "we can't plan" concept will find no sympathy here - this board has posters and participants with full-size families and professional careers who figure out how to plan on their own. Many posters here think the planning is as fun or more so than the travel itself. After all, for all the time you're planning, you are anticipating what you'll do and where you'll go.

Here are some issues you need to consider:

(1) most tours will be dominated by oldies. This is like Conquest's Second Law of Politics applied to the tour industry: Any tour not explicitly designed for younger tourists will be chock full of seniors. You want to wake up at 7 and have dinner at 530 and worry about whose teeth will pop out during the meals? And do you want to go touring at the pace that accompanies oldies? My late uncle used to go on these tours when he was deep into his 60s and 70s and complained that they were full of OLD people. He had the constitution of a far younger man; your companions likely won't.

(2) Tours designed for younger tourists (Contiki, et al.) are designed for budget travelers and will have lodgings that are either not great or WAY the heck outside the center of any city you stay in. The broad scope tours for Contiki, like the itinerary you describe, will have the partiers like the various Aussies taking gap years to have their OAs.

(3) Most tours do 2-night stops max and 3 if the first one is at X city and the tour ends with two nights in the same city (or starts with 2 there and ends with one more).

(4) CITIES ARE NOT EQUAL. London and Paris are London and Paris; Berlin is not comparable just as Chicago or Atlanta is not NYC.

(5) If you insist on bouncing about like this (by contrast, two weeks for London/Paris or Paris/Venice/Rome would be a good trip), then look for companies that allow DIY city tours - they set you up with accommodation and some tour items and you can set the rest of your trip for yourself (see http://www.contiki.com/destinations/...explorer-5-day for an example). These are usually 3-4 nights and you can get a couple of them then you can link together how you're going to get from place 1 to place 2 to place 3.
BigRuss is offline  
Old Apr 28th, 2015, 12:00 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 6,818
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Big Russ...I always read your informative posts and occasionaly respond to them, but this time you have offered an unnecessary, insulting opinion of so-called traveling "oldies"...shame on you. If you're lucky you may get there some day. In the meantime, take good care of your teeth. I have all my own and some of my hair, and turned 86 this year and have travelled independently all this time. Bah humbug.
stu
tower is offline  
Old Apr 28th, 2015, 12:20 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 8,053
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
tower, I did not interpret BR's comments the way you did. I think he was trying to suggest to these relatively young travelers that many tours are either the Contiki type or are geared to older travelers that do not not travel independently.

mn_traveler, be aware that by choosing three nights in cities spread a fair distance apart you will lose most of a day traveling in-between. Two nights in London really only gives you a day to sightsee there. Where do you plan to land? You my need a day or so just to get over jeg lag if your flight is from a long distance.
KTtravel is online now  
Old Apr 28th, 2015, 12:33 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,482
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You could call a travel agent in your area and ask:

When was the last time he/she was in those in cities?
Do you have a special relationship with any hotel?
Is he/she familiar with the various hi-speed trains and cheap inter-country airlines?

Let them do all the work, because as noted above, I doubt there is a tour company who will conform to your needs.

You need air to Europe
Inter-Europe transit
Hotels
And maybe transport from airports or train stations to hotel

And then you can find restaurants on your own.

And for the time not spent in the US planning, you will lose in Europe.

Someone last year on these boards engaged a travel agent for a trip to Spain and it was clear that he had never been there.
IMDonehere is offline  
Old Apr 28th, 2015, 01:38 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,561
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Stu: Entirely too many of my teeth are porcelain, for a couple, the roots are now titanium. Hoping that laser teeth are perfected in a couple of decades.

My dad is nearly your age and travels independently (with mom, also an octogenarian) and only a few short years ago I had the pleasure of meeting the old boy for a match at the Bernabeu, which he enjoyed tremendously. They still bop about to their favorite haunts. Good on them, and you. He also has something resembling hair and all his teeth.

But like you, HE'S NOT TAKING GLOBUS TYPE TOURS, he's independent. (See, I even wrote that in caps so you could read it clearly . . . ;-)). And the OP shouldn't be on Globus tours either - my uncle was griping about OLD people on those tours when he was long past his initial AARP eligibility.
BigRuss is offline  
Old Apr 28th, 2015, 01:47 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,146
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
So your goal is to have one full day in London, two full days in Paris, one in a German city, two days each in Rome and Venice? It takes spending three nights in a place just to get two full days there. Each time you change locations, you lose most of a day - figure from when you check out of your lodgings in one place until you get checked in in the next place.

I agree that you are unlikely to find a guided tour that fulfills your requirements - and if you could, I think you would be unhappy. And you don't need a guide with you in any of these places.

Can you book plane tickets? Book your own flights to Europe - into one city and out of another. Book your own hotels - even if you choose American chain hotels that you have points with. We can help you figure out how to book train tickets - take a look at www.seat61.com Taxis to/from airports or train stations are easy.

Planning where you want to go and how long to stay takes more thought. If you have two weeks, personally, I'd choose three cities at most. If you could have 5 nights in each, that would give you four full days to explore each city. That's enough to give you a taste and give you ideas about what you want to do next time. I wouldn't want fewer than 3 full days (4 nights) in any of the cities you mention. Since you don't know where you want to go in Germany, it's easy to cut that one.

You might also consider a Paris & London trip - take the Eurostar between the cities. It's logistically very easy and would be a great intro to Europe. There is so much to do and see in these two cities you'll never get bored!
Kathie is offline  
Old Apr 28th, 2015, 02:01 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sorry -

you are making the classic mistakes of first time travelers to europe

1) trying to go to too many places in too little time (more places means not enough time anywhere and moving from one city to another takes 1/2 a day or more)
2) tours seem easy but typically mean 7 am starts and long days sitting on a bus with friends of your parents or grandparents - is that really what you want ?)
3) counting days and not nights - it takes 2 nights in a city to have one day to sightsee
4) thinking it's more complicated than it is

Yes, there are things that are different - but if you don't do any work/reading beforehand you will not understand much of what you are seeing - or even be sure how long you want to see more

IMHO this is a major expenditure of time and money - and worth the time and effort to do a LITTLE research yourself
nytraveler is offline  
Old Apr 28th, 2015, 04:01 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,320
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The Rick Steves company has a 3-week tour that hits a couple of cities in Germany, Venice, Rome, and Paris and a few other places. It's about $11k for two people. You could definitely plan your own trip to hit exactly what you want for less than that.

Plus, tours to Europe are populated with people quite older than you (how many 20-somethings have $11k to drop?).
Edward2005 is offline  
Old Apr 28th, 2015, 11:17 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,059
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Another disadvantage with tours is that you often don't get to spend much time at any one venue. They try to fit in so many of the iconic sites that a 'visit' may only consist of a photo opportunity, then on to the next venue.

Major cities in Europe have so much going for them - it's worth spending the time to get to know a city, rather than just rushing through a 'bucket list'.

You can always hire local guides if being shown around is your preference, and as others have said, most of us are independent travellers on this forum, so there is an overwhelming pool of knowledge for you to tap into . . . I am continually surprised at just how much help I receive with each posting! Di
di2315 is offline  
Old Apr 29th, 2015, 06:03 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,525
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Think geography!
Plan 3 trips in advance since you will return.
See Italy this year---4 destinations in 2 weeks.
See London, Paris, and Amsterdam next year.
See Bavari
bobthenavigator is offline  
Old Apr 29th, 2015, 06:08 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,525
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sorry---big thumb!

***** See Bavaria and the Swiss Alps the next year.

You get the idea. We have done that for 30 trips to Europe over the past 50 years. And, the planning and anticipation are all part of the fun.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Old Apr 29th, 2015, 07:47 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,429
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Look up Monograms Vacations They are a division of Globus tours and they are independent tours. They have some one city only and some are combinations of cities that might appeal to you. They work out the flights and hotel and a tour in each city and then you are on your own. You travel between cities by train or coach.
This way you can have some of the details worked out and time on your own to do what you want.
MarthaT is offline  
Old Apr 29th, 2015, 11:08 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 303
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
OP, since you and your husband have never been overseas, I think you may not be grasping how much time you would be wasting traveling to 5 cities in 2 weeks.
Think about this- would you recommend someone come to the US and visit NYC, Miami, Dallas, LA and Seattle all in 2 weeks? Most likely not (or I hope not!)

Invest in some guide books, take some time to read- you have a year! Re-read trip reports on here too, those are always helpful.

If you insist on doing a group tour (no shame, I take them when I'm traveling solo to a new country/region, but never when I have SO along for the ride!) look into G Adventures- they have some 'Upgraded' tours, which IME tend to have an 'older' crowd- ie average age is probably 35 versus mid 20's for their other trips (and late teen's for the YOLO trips!).
needmorevacation is offline  
Old Apr 29th, 2015, 12:57 PM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 10
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for all your advice! needmorevacation - your comment made a lot of sense when you said that I probably wouldn't recommend for someone to visit all those US cities in one day!

We'd likely fly into London if we do the type of trip that I described. However, our #1 destination is Italy (meaning that's the place we'd like to visit the most compared to the others). So... perhaps we'll start to consider flying into Rome, and visiting 3 cities there like some of you suggested.

Here's a question - if we focus our time in the Italy region, what would be recommended itinerary to see Italy, but also perhaps see another nearby country or two (Switzerland, then maybe France/Paris?)

I'm ok with not visiting England or Germany on this trip, if it means that we'll have significantly more time in other countries.
mntraveler_12 is offline  
Old Apr 29th, 2015, 01:22 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 303
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You could fly into Rome, take the train to Venice and then take the train to Switzerland, or fly to Paris. For a first timer- I'd day Paris over Switzerland.
My parents just booked an overnight train from London to Venice (stops in Paris)(Oriental Express- when I heard the price, I almost fell over!) but that could be an option if you wanted to go the other way- Fly into Paris and take an overnight train to Venice.
(I'm sure there must be one Venice-Paris, I just only know of the other direction!)
Play around with flight prices, flying in/out of different cities and see what works! Planning is FUN!
needmorevacation is offline  
Old Apr 29th, 2015, 01:59 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,146
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
With two weeks, and wanting to see three cities in Italy, forget about nearby countries. Three stops in that time is really the most you would want unless you just want to see trains and train stations. If you must see Paris, choose two cities in Italy. I agree that Switzerland - a whole country - is less manageable than a single city. Also, Switzerland is very expensive these days (it doesn't use the Euro).

So if all Italy, something like Venice - Florence - Rome (flying into Venice and out of Rome).

Italy + Paris, Paris - Venice - Rome flying into Paris and out of Rome. I'm not sure if you would be better off flying from paris to Venice or if the train would be better.

Yes, you could take the Orient Express from London to Venice for over $3000 per person, but this is unlikely to be what you are looking for. Regular trains are very reasonably priced.
Kathie is offline  
Old Apr 29th, 2015, 02:38 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,561
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you go to Rome, it's really easy to visit a second country without leaving the city limits and crossing into any other part of Italy . . .
BigRuss is offline  
Old Apr 29th, 2015, 03:12 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 156
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We've done Florence, Tuscany(Montalcino) and Venice in one 2 week trip to Italy. Another 2 weeks were spent doing Venice, Cortina, Bolzano, Riva D'Garda, Milan and Verona. 2 weeks focused entirely on Rome over Christmas 2013 and our first trip was one week Munich and then drove to Rome for a second week.

The Big Three tend to be Florence, Rome and Venice. If you buy open jaw tickets, you can easily fly into one and out of the other. Trains are easy between cities - book in advance for the best fares.
Iahawk is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO