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Travel to Amsterdam, belgium, Paris and Switzerland

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Apr 17th, 2015, 02:01 AM
  #1
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Travel to Amsterdam, belgium, Paris and Switzerland

Hi, me and my wife are planning a trip to Europe and have short listed Amsterdam, Belgium, Paris and Switzerland as the countries to travel. I would seek help from the Fodors community to help me plan the route, cheapest places to stay and best things to do.

The route that I have finalized is reach Amsterdam on July 31, 2015 and spend three nights there, move to Belgium and spend three nights in Brussels and Bruges, move to Paris and spend three nights in Paris and finally move to Switzerland and spend 6 nights there.

We guys intend to roam around the cities, visit the must see places, understand the culture and have a relaxing holiday.

A Few questions:

1. Does this look like a very hectic trip, are any alterations required/

2. Does it make sense to buy a Euro rail pass, my train travel would be from Amsterdam to Belgium, Belgium to Paris and Paris to Switzerland. Or I should buy tickets individually?

3. Is the route planning ok?

3. In Switzerland, does it make sense to stay in different places or stay in one place and make day trips to other places. Which are the two ideal places to stay?

4. We don't want to spend much on accommodations, but everything I search for seems to be over priced, any help on that?
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Apr 17th, 2015, 03:33 AM
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0. Amsterdam is not a country.

1. It's hectic and not very relaxing, but that is my opinion. I don't know you personally so I can't offer any meaningful tweaks. Sorry. Although, I wonder why 6 nights in Switzerland.

2. A rail pass might make sense but you'd have to compare with the alternatives.

3. Logically it seems ok to me.

4. I don't know what "over-priced" means to you. What sites did you look at? I am a af an of booking.com
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Apr 17th, 2015, 04:16 AM
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2. Does it make sense to buy a Euro rail pass, my train travel would be from Amsterdam to Belgium, Belgium to Paris and Paris to Switzerland. Or I should buy tickets individually?>

No Eurailpass - you are not taking enough trains to make it pay off - but a Swiss Pass for Switzerland may be a great deal - covers a lot more than Eurails do - like mountain trains, lake boats, postal buses, city trams and buses and gives free entry to 470 Swiss museums and attractions - look into the Swiss Pass and buy online discounted tickets for Amsterdam to Belgium and Belgium to Paris and Paris to Switzerland (www.capitainetrain.com for this one).

Check these superb sites IMO for lots of stuff on European trains and Swiss Passes - www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com - the latter is a font of info on discounted tickets.
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Apr 17th, 2015, 05:37 AM
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We have no idea what you mean by "overpriced". You are going to world capitals and lodging i not going to be the same as the notel motel by the side of the highway.

There are lodgings in every price range - form perhaps $40 per night per person in a shared dorm room in a hostel on up.

What kind of lodgings are you looking for and what amenities do you expect (AC? elevator? private bath?). How important is a central location versus trekking in from suburbs? And what is your budget per night - a specific amount in euros?

As for your trip I think you are seriously cutting short Paris and would ask what you want to see/do in Switz - which is much more expensive than the other places?
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Apr 17th, 2015, 08:07 AM
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1) the more you move around/more destinations, the more you spend (extra travel, etc)

2) >>4. We don't want to spend much on accommodations, but everything I search for seems to be over priced,<<

How much do you want to spend - what is your nightly budget for accommodations? How can you say things are over-priced? Compared to what? Most places in the world I'm aware of room rates are determined by the number of people who want to go there and the property's level of luxury/lack there of.
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Apr 17th, 2015, 08:21 AM
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If you don't want to spend much on accommodations, then you are going to the wrong places - all of these places are expensive for accommodation. Switzerland is the most expensive place you are visiting, so if you need to cut your expenses, you might cut Switzerland.

This is a fast paced trip, that won't really allow time "roam around the cities, visit the must see places, understand the culture and have a relaxing holiday." If that is what you want, you need to make serious cuts in your itinerary. As I count, you have 15 nights... I would chose not more than 3 cities for the kind of trip you say you want.

Three nights somewhere is just two full days to see/do/experience what you came for... obviously not enough for any major city. If you choose just three locations, that would be 5 nights in each place, so 4 days yo explore - still fast-paced, but better. If you really want to slow down and relax and experience, choose just two places or even just one city plus day trips.
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Apr 17th, 2015, 10:27 AM
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3. In Switzerland, does it make sense to stay in different places or stay in one place and make day trips to other places. Which are the two ideal places to stay?>

As janis says Switzerland can be very expensive so if you find something reasonable make it your base - two great bases for first timers:

1- The fabulous Jungfrau Region around Interlaken - which BTW has for Switzerland the cheapest hotels I have ever seen and nice too - this area has so so much varied things to see and do for however many days you want - easy hikes - mountain-climbing trains and gondolas going off in every direct - dramatic glacier-girdled peaks soaring thousands of feet above lush cow-dotted meadows - the highlight for me and many of any place in Switzerland for first-time visitors.

https://www.google.com/search?q=jung...=1600&bih=1075

and then for variety say Lake Geneva - French-speaking area with again so much in a concentrated area to do - take lake boats even over toi Evian-les-Bains France - Montreux is a great base - walk to the famous lakeside Chillon Castle - neighboring Vevey is a dream town many like to stay in - day trips to Gruyeres - a fine fine walled town and the Broc chocolate factory for Willie Wonka type tours - don't fall in though!

https://www.google.com/search?q=lake...=1600&bih=1075
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Apr 17th, 2015, 01:23 PM
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4. We don't want to spend much on accommodations, but everything I search for seems to be over priced, any help on that?>

How about B&Bs or Airbnb? Often as nice of rooms as hotels at a fraction of the price.
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Apr 21st, 2015, 12:38 PM
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Looks very hectic to me, and in my view, you're misallocating your time.

If it were my vacation, I would skip Brussels, stay a nite in Bruges, and add at least one nite to Paris. Three nites gives you only two days, and you should have at least one more day in Paris.

Again, if it were my vacation, rather than Switzerland, I'd spend time in France, Burgundy, around Dijon or Beaune (if you have any interest in wine or medieval culture) and the rest in Savoy. In Savoy, you're in the mountains without the expense of Switzerland. There are a lot of other places you could go in France.

To find lodging, I start with Tripadvisor.com. It shows B&Bs and apartments as well as hotels. Be very cautious about airbnb. There is a long discussion of the legality of airbnb in Paris elsewhere on this forum. Lodging in Europe is expensive, but thanks to the rising dollar is as inexpensive as it has been for years.
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Apr 21st, 2015, 02:46 PM
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Switzerland is also much more expensive than France, across the board except for chocolate!
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Apr 22nd, 2015, 04:48 AM
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Brussels underwhelms many folks - though it is a complex cosmoplitant city with hidden gems for the average tourist a day will be more than enough - Bruges is a dream and Gent and Antwerp gems too.
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Apr 23rd, 2015, 12:29 AM
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Guys thank you for such wonderful responses, I have finalised the following Itinerary for my trip. Land in Amsterdam on July 31 early morning, stay until August 03. Leave Amsterdam for Bruges (Through Thayls train which will reach Brussels and from there take an inter city train to Bruges) and stay there for two nights. Leave for Brussels on August 05 and spend two days there. Leave for Paris (again via Thalys train) and stay in Paris for three nights. Leave Paris for Zurich (through TGV Lyria train), take a Swiss Travel pass and transfer to Interklaken for three nights. Lastly, come back to Zurich and stay there for 2 nights and finally return (return flight is from Zurich).

After massive amount of research and three days on incessant googling, I have been able to book 3-4 star hotels, Airbnb Apartment and hostel which has costed me an average of Euro 95 for two people per night. I think my travel period coincides with the tourist season in the respective countries is the reason the hotel rates are incredibly high.

I think I have made a mistake in allocating two days to Brussels and three days in paris, it should have been one day in Brussels and four days in Paris. But I have a non refundable hotel and a train now, so do dont think I can change that.

We will probably just relax in Brussels and try to cover as much as possible in Paris. We are the types who want to do everything in the city and leave nothing, but this time since we are on a baby mooning vacation, it would be ok even if we leave some of the must do things. This is our first visit to Europe.

I would request you to help us with the best things to do or not to be missed things in Paris and Switzerland in my given time frame. This would help me plan better and only go to the best places.

Thanks again for the responses.
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Apr 23rd, 2015, 04:27 AM
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Yes, you did make a mistake about the time in Brussels and Paris. Why did you do it in the face of so much advice about it being pretty boring!! think again about sacrificing the hotel and train.
Your hotel budget is NOT incredibly expensive!!
And truth be told, too much time in parts of Switzerland.
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Apr 23rd, 2015, 09:45 AM
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French TGVs go to Bern too and that is a lot closer to Interlaken than Zurich - if you train goes vis Bern get off there - just a hlaf hour to Interlaken-Ost, jumping off station for the fabulous Jungfrau Region.

Many folks like staying right up in dem hills over Interlaken - opt for a Grindelwald or Wengen and have views from your hotel balcony of the glacier-girdled Jungfrau Massif - some popular things to do in the Jungfrau Area:

Train up to the Jungfraujoch - highest train station in Europe and a sea of perpetual snow and ice - walk thru the ice grottoes and walk to a glacier

and do the famous Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg hike - a fairly flat and easy walk really for a few miles with awesome views the whole way - the most popular hike in the area I would think

and take a trip up to Murren and take the long cable way to The Shilthorn and Piz Gloria - the famous revolving restaurant there - out in the middle of nowhwere

or take a boat ride on Lake Thun or Lake Brienz

so so much to see and do in this lovely area.
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Apr 23rd, 2015, 10:08 AM
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Take a trip to Gent or Antwerpen for the day, if you find 2 days in Brussels too much. Or maybe Leuven. Or if the weather is good, take a daytrip to the beach. There are regular trains to Oostende. Might make a change from the cities, to spend a day at the beach in Belgium.

95 euros for 2 people per night is not expensive. In Brussels, hotels will be cheaper in August as there are very few business travellers, and government and EU are on holiday.
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Apr 23rd, 2015, 11:39 AM
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Yes if stuck with two nights in Brussels use one day for a day trip like Tulips says - either Gent or Antwerp are IMO more enjoyable for the average tourist than Brussels.
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Apr 23rd, 2015, 11:07 PM
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I will get off at Bern if the train stops there and thank you so much for the great things to do in Jungfrau region.

Beach advice sounds really good, can you suggest a good beach near Brussels. Will beach thing be better or a day trip to Antwerp?

I had to do a lot of googling and look for offers to reach an average of euro 95 which I know is not really expensive.

In the meanwhile, I have booked the Anne Frank house and Rijksmuseum Museum tickets in Amsterdam, escaping the Van Gogh museum. My Amsterdam itinerary looks something like this - Day 1 - Rijksmuseum Museum and flower market in Bloemenmarkt. For rest of the day,just stroll through the city. Day 2 - Anne Frank House, visit the bull dog cafe, a stroll round the Jordaan Area and Prinsengracht. Also go to Noordermarkt, Jordaan Area and Lindengracht market. If left with time, go to the flea markets Albert Cuypmarkt and Waterlooplein. Night go to red light area.
Day 3 - go for a canal ride, have picnic in Vondelpark, do some shopping in Nine Streets, Nieuwendijk and Haarlemmerstraat and finally go for a few drinks at Leidseplein.

I have put this down post reading a lot of trip reports and referring to trip advisor.

How does this sound.....any advices?
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Apr 24th, 2015, 06:58 AM
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I guess after checking that the direct Paris to Zurich TGV trains do not stop anywhere near Bern.
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