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Seeking recommendations for first Europe trip..

Seeking recommendations for first Europe trip..

Old Jun 12th, 2024, 05:12 PM
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Seeking recommendations for first Europe trip..

I'm hoping to plan a first Europe trip in Fall 2025. I've wanted to go for a long time, so this will be a special trip. I love castles, art museums, antique/flea markets.
I only plan on one country. So far I'm interested in Belgium, Barcelona, Milan, Portugal looks beautiful, what about Budapest? Thoughts please. Thanks, Greg
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Old Jun 12th, 2024, 06:00 PM
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What thoughts are you seeking here? Really, your best place to start is some good guidebooks of each of the countries and cities you're interested in. You can even read some of the trip reports and planning threads of the respective destinations right here on this forum for other "ideas." When in doubt, the "Destinstions" tab on the Fodors main page is a good starting point.

Once you've narrowed down where you are going, your next steps would be to determine the when, how you will get there and back (round trip or multi-city,, depending on your itinerary), how you will get around. What you want to see will depend on your trip length.

As a baseline, three nights in a destination will net you two full days. Your transit from town to town (if applicable) eats into your "time budget." Some cities require more time than others. Entire countries, depending on their size and what you want to see, will require more time, obviously. For example, 5 nights (4 days) might afford you enough time to see most of what Budapest and Barcelona have to offer - at least what most "top destinations" folks want to see/do. Two full weeks might give you a good amount of time in Portugal and Belgium, but could also depend on everything you might want to include - you may need longer.
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Old Jun 12th, 2024, 06:01 PM
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How many days would you have in your destination country?

There are castles in many places, but the first two areas that come to my mind are Scotland and the Loire Valley in France.

You can visit world-class art museums in every large European city. My favorites list would include London, Paris, Florence, Rome, Amsterdam, Madrid.
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Old Jun 12th, 2024, 06:47 PM
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"Thoughts please" is waaaaay to broad a question this early in planning. How many days and which month(s) - because late Fall could be wintry and early Fall could still be hot in a lot of places.

Castles are in LOTS of places, but I agree with Jean the first place that leaps to mind for castles would be Scotland. Or maybe along the Rhine, or parts of France. And Art museums and markets are found everywhere but mostly in any of the major cities (London, Paris, all over Italy, major cities in Spain etc etc.)

You are so far from finalizing any ideas -- I agree with Travel_Nerd that you probably would benefit from a few guidebooks to help you focus.
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Old Jun 12th, 2024, 06:57 PM
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I thought your screen name sounded familiar. Since you say this would be your first European trip, it seems the trip you were considering back during covid never happened.

Ya know . . . the ideas we shared on your 2020 thread would still be valid. London to Scotland by rail..
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Old Jun 12th, 2024, 11:10 PM
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If you do opt for Belgium, you should look at the antiques market in the Sablon district of Brussels (Sat/ Sun, just next to the church there). There are also antiques shops on Place du Grand Sablon. There is the big daily flea market at Place du Jeu de Balle (finishes 2pm) and the shops that are fed by it on Rue Blaes and Rue Haute. And of course the Sunday antiques / bric-a-brac market in Tongeren, which is the biggest in Benelux (7am - 1pm). Tongeren is also a Roman city, the oldest in Belgium, so is worth a bit of your time.

I used to go antiquing a bit when I had more space but nowadays it's off the menu. But these are all very worthwhile and there are real bargains to be found at Place du Jeu de Balle, you just need patience and to be up early to rub shoulders with all the professionals.

Lavandula

Last edited by lavandula; Jun 12th, 2024 at 11:14 PM. Reason: added day to Tongeren market
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Old Jun 12th, 2024, 11:30 PM
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Ooh and castles - there are lots in Belgium but I am not such a castle aficionado, although I do know Beersel and Gaasbeek near Brussels, and Fre˙r near Dinant. But you would probably do well to have a car for these.

Lavandula
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Old Jun 13th, 2024, 11:23 AM
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Thanks everyone. Yes, I did a good bit of researching before Covid came into our lives. Recently I've done more research and noticed a few interesting things. * Places like Lisbon, Nice, Milan, Budapest for example tend to bring up higher fares than say Geneva, Barcelona, Copenhagen, or Brussels. I think the last 3 of these are drawing me in, not just because of airfare but other things. Denmark looks neat and interesting, I could do a day-trip to Sweden, as a plus. Geneva would be fun to cruise the lake, visit the castle, and do a day-trip into the French alps.

Hoping to travel late September or early October. Not to discount the UK, but I think this trip I want to be mainland Europe. Greg
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Old Jun 13th, 2024, 09:23 PM
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I suggest Denmark for a first timer

Denmark is a good choice for a first visit to Europe. It has lots of what you're interested in. You can get non-stop flights into Copenhagen from many major cities. It's easier on a first-time traveler because a lot of people speak English and public transportation is easy. It doesn't get insanely hot in the summer, either.
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Old Jun 14th, 2024, 11:39 AM
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Thanks for the Denmark suggestion. At first glance, I might not have considered Scandinavia, but after more research it definitely seems like a great option. Is early September a good time weather-wise? I don't want to be really hot (or cold either).
Regarding my one-day bus trip to Sweden, any suggestions for how to spend some time? We'll be in Malmo, nearby the Lilla Torga, which should be fun for lunch and people-watching. The ride over the bridge looks enjoyable. Greg
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