Summer Trip to Europe (23 year olds)

Mar 24th, 2009, 07:09 AM
  #1  
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Summer Trip to Europe (23 year olds)

I posted here before with a very rough plan my friend and I came up with and all the responses were of great help. We have a better idea now and want to post it again to see if there are any ideas of specific things we can do in each place or advice on our itinerary. We are both 23 and fresh out of college searching to have a fun first adventure in Europe. We know that we probably won't get to everything we want to do, but here is a list of places we want to visit and the time we hope to spend there.

We'll travel by train and stay mainly in youth hostels, trying to get by pretty cheap wherever we go.

(Fly to Madrid)
Spain
-Madrid (2 days)
-Barcelona (4 days) - Old Quarter/Black Madonna Shrine/Las Ramblas
France
-Nice/Marseille (3 days) -Ligne Digne
Italy
-Florence (2 days) -Pisa/Lucca churches/Old Town
-Rome (3 days) -Vacitcan/Sistine Chapel/Colosseum/Forum/Pantheon
-Venice (2 days)
Switzerland
-Grindelwald/Interlaken (3 days) -Jungfrau Railway
-Zermatt (3 days) -Hiking and Skiing
-Bern (3 days) -Golden Pass Line/Rhine Falls
Germany
-Freiburg (2 days) -Black Forest
-Munich (4 days) -Fussen(Hohenschwangau/Neuschwanstein Castles)
-Heidelberg (2 days)
-Rhine Valley(Mainz to Cologne) (3 days) -Boat ride + stops
Netherlands
-Amsterdam (3 days) -North Sea Beaches/Dunes
*France
-Paris (4 days) -Louvre/Eiffel Tower/Notre Dame/Versailles
England
-Bath (2 days)
-London (4 days) -Tower/London Eye/Buckingham/Changing of Guard/Kensington
(Fly out of London)

We are very outdoors-type people and are looking to see the sights but also to do some skiing, hiking, biking, camping, etc. If you have any more ideas/advice for us that would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
stomper9 is offline  
Mar 24th, 2009, 09:47 AM
  #2  
 
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Posts: 6,047
You are saying you are outdoors-types and you made up an itinerary which consists mostly of large cities. Ahem.

IMO, you have packed way too many destinations into your itinerary. You will spend most of your time sitting in trains, waiting in train stations and schlepping your luggage from the station to the hostel and back.

2 days for Madrid (including the day of arrival?) is very tight for Spain's capital - and no chance to explore the beautiful landscape which surrounds Madrid.

4 days for Barcelona is o.k., but, again, hardly any opportunity for outdoor activities.

Then three days for Marseille + Nice? The train from Barcelona to Marseille takes over 9 hours. The train from Marseille to Nice 2 1/2 hours. There is hardly any time left for Nice. And why do you want to take the commuter train from Nice to Digne?

Two days for Tuscany? Tuscany is a beautiful region for hiking, biking, beach activities...

etc.

My advice: Skip half of the destinations and spend a little more time at each place.

If you prefer camping and biking, you should make a completely different itinerary - e.g. including Costa Brava, Languedoc, Provence, Tuscany..

BTW, which time of year do you intend to go?
traveller1959 is offline  
Mar 24th, 2009, 10:59 AM
  #3  
 
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Posts: 301
Wow, that is a very ambitious itinerary. I personally think you'll get tired of 2-3 day stops. Perhaps consider adding days in places and doing day-trips out and back as opposed to packing and unpacking, finding a new hostel constantly - I'd at least break up short stays with longer stays. Also I would really research realistic travel time (then conceptualize waiting at the train station, finding your hostel, getting settled and orientated)- you have some decent distances that will quickly eat into your 2-3 day stops.

Perhaps think about it this way - your going all the way to Florence - wouldn't you like to see anything in the area? Tuscan Towns - a bit of out of city time? The other thing is your dipping your toe into so many countaries as opposed to getting a good sampling of each. Perhaps consider if there is anything else in France for example, you'd like to see while your already there. It is all a question of your own travel style and preferance though of course.

You've got lots of great destinations there but it may not be to your best benefit to try to see all of them in 45 days.

Just my two cents,
Naxos
NaxosTravels is offline  
Mar 24th, 2009, 12:02 PM
  #4  
 
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Posts: 25,350
I did a 10-week trip like yours (couple of days here, couple of days there) when I was 21. I was tired by the end, but so what, you're only young once (and you have to be young to travel around that much!). Lots of people on here prefer "slow travel" (stay one place longer), but I personally have no problem with your plan.
sf7307 is offline  
Mar 24th, 2009, 12:19 PM
  #5  
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Travel1959's first comment is apt. What you have here is a highlights of the great cities of Europe. An "active outdoor" itinerary would be very different.

As a highlights itinerary, I have no authority to criticize it, since it is not a lot different from a 6 week vacation that two buddies and I did many decades ago when I was about your age. Just checking our old itinerary, we had 32 nights in 18 different cities, 5 nights sitting up on overnight trains and 5 nights on a boat going from Italy to Rhodes and back via Corfu and Athens. We put the boat thing in the middle of the 6 weeks in the belief that we would want a break from the constant moving around.

While I obviously wouldn't and couldn't do such a journey now, I regret very little of that holiday. I have great memories and had a great time. Looking back, I can't believe how superficial and shallow we were (20 minutes in the Louvre, just enough time to race in, look at the Mona Lisa, and race out again!), but so what?

I'd say go for it and have a great time, too. And I'm certainly glad that there was no Internet in those days so people could tell me how to do my vacation.
ron is offline  
Mar 24th, 2009, 01:04 PM
  #6  
 
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Certainly look into the bargain Eurail Youthpass for such a trip as outlined - only have to be under 26. Some great sources of European rail and railpass info: www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com - sites that have tons of objective info and not just the usual pass prices and an option to buy button. The latter site lets you download free their excellent European Rail & Planning Guide that has a chapter on each country with rail maps, suggested itineraries and bits on trains and passes in each. Trains are a great way also to meet the zillions of other youths from around the world traveling on trains and Eurail Youthpasses. Keep your itinerary flexible in case you meet folks you would like to travel with, as i did at about your age when i first went with a Eurail Youthpass.
Palenque is offline  
Mar 24th, 2009, 02:29 PM
  #7  
 
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ttt
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Mar 24th, 2009, 07:12 PM
  #8  
 
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Keep your itinerary flexible in case you meet folks you would like to travel with, as i did at about your age when i first went with a Eurail Youthpass.

As did we on the above-mentioned trip. Also, having a Youthpass allows you to travel without being bogged down with plans -- sometimes we just went whereever the next train was going.
sf7307 is offline  
Mar 25th, 2009, 01:50 AM
  #9  
 
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Hello stomper9,

You must be excited about such an ambitious trip! It's great to see that you're spending 4 days in Barcelona. There are many must sees in the city but since you will have limited time I have listed below the top attractions that you ought to visit. I understand that you will be keeping things relatively cheap so I'll try to list things that or free or cost very little.

Parc Guell - This is located in the Gracia area of the city. It is public park open to everyone with no entry fee. It was designed by Barcelona's famous architect Gaudí. It possesses some houses designed in Gaudí's curious style as well as other architectural structures and interesting mosaics found littered throughout the gardens. From the top you are provided with some fantastic views of the city.

Sagrada Familia - Again another masterpiece by Gaudí. Massively popular with any tourist, it should be top of the list of anyone here on a one off visit. Still in the process of being built and with completion still not within sight, it will still blow your mind with the attention to detail on such a grand cathedral.

Mount Tibidabo - The place for the ultimate view of Barcelona. After taking several different forms of transport from the city centre to get up there, you are greatly rewarded with the most stunning panoramic views of the city and its surrounding areas. If you are lucky enough, on a clear day, you will be able to catch a glimpse of the snow drenched Pyrenees. There is even a small but quaint amusement park at the top of the mountain.

The beaches at Vila Olimpica - Located beside the 1992 Olympic Village, these beaches offer a slightly more pleasant experience than the hustle and bustle of Barceloneta beach. There are also a host of restaurants and bars right beside them with the one of the main areas of clubs in the city found here as well.

Hope to hear from you soon and that you have a unforgettable trip!

OHcarlos

(OH-Barcelona)
OHCarlos is offline  
Mar 25th, 2009, 09:10 AM
  #10  
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Thank you all for your responses. We realize its a little crazy but we have talked with some folks who have done similiar trips and we think we can handle it. It is our first trip to Europe so yes we will be visiting a lot of the big cities, but yeah we want to get in some hiking wherever possible.

A little bit of a side note, When we say 2 days and 3 days for a city, we mean that we will spend those days in that city. There will be a day in between each city for travel, laundry, waiting for trains. So, whatever time we said we spent will not include travel time.

If any of you have suggestions for more places/things to do in any of those cities, please let us know. We will be getting an unlimited rail pass so we can travel whenever. Thanks!
stomper9 is offline  

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