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Tips for family 3 week trip to Spain/France/Italy

Tips for family 3 week trip to Spain/France/Italy

Nov 9th, 2008, 11:54 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 12
Tips for family 3 week trip to Spain/France/Italy


We are a family of four (two kids ages 14 and 11) landing in Barcelona mid-June, out of Rome three weeks later.

We roughly figure one week in each. Spain is set with Barcelona 4 nights, Girona 3.

Then it gets tricky for me. Figuring cheapest to train most of the trip, I'm thinking 3 nights in Carcassonne, 3 nights in Arles (rent a car here for daytrips), then to Nice for one night before boarding train to either Cinque Terra or Venice for a few nights, ending up in Rome for last 4 nights.

I know it's far to travel all this way. Does this itinerary work? Too many places, not enough? Thanks in advance for any suggestions. Kids have never been out of US and this is our one big ($) family trip.


stosh9191 is offline  
Nov 9th, 2008, 12:11 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,518
Too far for my tastes. I find most 3 country trips are a mistake. I would do Spain and the south of France, or I would do Cote d' Azur and Italy but not all 3. With 4 of you it may not be easy or economical for train travel. I would plan an itinerary where you can drive for most of the trip. I would perhaps start in Nice, train as far as Genoa to get the car, and then add the CT and Tuscany to your trip. Good luck !
bobthenavigator is offline  
Nov 9th, 2008, 12:16 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 13,660
Girona is only an hour by train from Barcelona. I would not spend 3 nights
there unless you REALLY like small towns. We found a day trip sufficient
There is much more to do in Barcelona ( also for the kids!). Sitges ( nice beaches) is only 1/2 hour from Barcelona.
There are cheap flights ( Vueling) from Barcelona to Nice. You might rent a car in Nice for a few days
At that time of the year (when the weather can be hot ) I would rather be on the Cote with 2 kids.
From Nice you can take a train to CT ( I think you have to change in Genoa) or just fly to Venice (?)
danon is online now  
Nov 9th, 2008, 01:41 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 2,560
My number one piece of advice...PACK LIGHT! You'll be schlepping suitcases around and unless you are taking three full week's worth of clothes, you'll be doing laundry at least once. check out airfares between the cities as we found some to be very reasonable (like 29e between Barca and Madrid). You might be able to fly from Barca to Florence and spend some time there, wander down the coast, through tuscany and end up on Rome; or fly to Milan, spend some time at Lake Como, wander through piedmont, spend a day in Verona and then down to Rome. Don't try to cram too much into the trip or the kids will end up cranky, you'll be exhausted and the memories will all melt together.
cmeyer54 is offline  
Nov 9th, 2008, 02:55 PM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 666
First off, ignore the people who tell you that you are doing too much in too little time. You seem to have a perfectly decent itinerary and I know the feeling of wanting to make the most of that expensive trans-Atlantic flight.

We did a similar trip in the summer of 2007. These thoughts are based on that experience.

First, the transportation question:

I traveled through Austria and Switzerland and down to Rome using the train with my 11-year-old daughter. Once we met up with my hubby and son (16) we leased a car and drove all over the place. The benefit to the train was that once we were on we could sit back and relax, and we never got lost. On the other hand, we couldn't stop to check things out on the way, and we were tied to the train schedule. I realized when we left Venice that catching a train on schedule would not always be easy.

Please take some time to really figure out how much the train tickets are going to cost before committing to the train, especially since there are four of you. Then research the cost of car rental for two weeks including the cost of gasoline. You probably won't want a car in Barcelona or Rome, which reduces the amount of time that you need the car. On the other hand, you are picking up in one country and dropping off in another, which may drive up your cost. Driving in France and Spain was perfectly sane. Driving in Italy was not nearly as simple. Many parking lots are tiny and difficult to access so think twice about getting a manual shift if you are not really good at it.

We had a great time in Provence. We drove through Arles, then visited the Pont du Gard, which is an amazing Roman acqueduct. Avignon was a lot of fun, and very accessible for the kids. Nimes has a lot of Roman history as well, with a temple that is now a visitor's center and an amphitheater that you can wander all over.

I don't know if I would do Cinque Terre with kids. I've never been there, so I may be speaking from ignorance, but it seems like an area that is more for romantic adult getaways than for energetic teens and pre-teens. My kids enjoyed Venice, but it's a little bit out of the way. Have you considered Florence. Beware of the fact that there are two train stations there. One is in the historic center, while the other is on the outskirts of town. Florence has so much to see and do, including a market that your kids will probably love. I know it was shopping paradise for mine.

Consider getting a couple of cell phones that you can use on the trip. You may want to split up and it's not always easy to find each other again. This is the one thing that I would really have changed about our trip.

cferrb is offline  
Nov 9th, 2008, 03:44 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
I think you're missing the boat on some of these places.

Agree Griona isn't worth 3 days, nor i Carcassone. There's way more to see on the Riviera (could take weeks).

If you can, do limit yourselves to 2 countries. And, if you're planning on doing lots of day trips from the town I would rent a car versus taking a train. It gives you a lot more freedom to see what you really like as you go, opens up your schedule, makes dealing with luggage easier and for 4 people is fairly affordable.
nytraveler is offline  
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