Post # 1
As someone who has never been to Europe before I am super excited to have just booked a trip for next year!! Now we need to sort out all the places we need to visit
Which are the “must-do” cities and what makes them so great? So far I have heard the best things about Florence and Prague. Should I cut time out of Paris to go to the French Riviera? Is it worth cutting Switzerland out to go to Seville and Grenada?
All comments welcome!! 🙂
Post # 3
Depends on the sort of scenery you enjoy the most but FI and I looooved Switzerland so I would be hesitant to cut that out! We also personally really enjoyed Nice, Florence, Venice, Salzburg and Berlin the most. London is my personal fave as well. Rome is worth doing for the history but I would have loved to get to the Cinque Terre, AmalfI Coast etc too.
Post # 4
@Cyri: I live in switzerland and looove it! It’s like Italy, Germany and France packed into one. That being said it’s also super expensive to travel here, eat out etc. If you’re an outdoorsy nature lover it’s definitely the place to go though! Or a cheese lover!
How much time do you have? I’d say don’t spend anything less than two nights in one spot and spend three nights in the same place when you can and want! That seems to be a good travel rhythm for me personally. Berlin is absolutely amazing (and inexpensive), so is Prague and Paris. Copenhagen is also really lovely. I love Italy as well! I’d mix up countryside and cities as much as possible, I find that I often end up doing the same stuff in all cities: sights, shopping, museums – all nice things but countryside gives me more of a feel for the country I’m in.
Maybe make a list and research if there are any places that are harder to get to than others from the departure points (hope this make sense, am hungover right now lol) to make sure you don’t waste unnecessary time on transport! Although Europe is pretty streamlined with affordable flights and trains… Don’t overstuff your plans, just make them efficient and smart.
Post # 5
@Cyri: This is like me saying “I’m coming to the US, what should I visit?” The choice is endless and unless you have a couple of years, there’s no way you can pack everything in.
I live in Paris so am biased but definitely think you should come here. Otherwise I love Vienna, Lisbon, London…Personally I was disappointed by Florence. I would love to visit Rome and Venice though this depends on the time of year you’ll be visiting as in the summer they will be packed with tourists and very smelly!
You need to decide what interests you most – cities, sea, mountains, small villages etc and what your budget is. Rather than flying I think it may be cheaper to get a rail pass.
Post # 6
I’m English and have always had the luxury of mainland Europe on the doorstep so have travelled very widely there since childhood. What I would strongly advise against doing is taking the typical “10 European capitals in 10 Days” sort of trip that is often heavily promoted to visitors from outside Europe. All this will do is leave you tired and with a confusing sense of where you have been and what you have seen.
So instead, take some time to research where you particularly want to go in Europe and make a realistic itinerary. It’s best to split Europe into regions (as indeed I do when visiting the US). Given that you will need to allow two days of your trip for flying out and home, allow at least 2 days in the cities you’d like to visit. I’d strongly advise flying into European cities that have direct flights from the US too. London is a good place to start too.
You could do Florence and Prague, there’s a lot of of travelling between Italay and the Czech Republic so I’d be inclined to either do Berlin, Vienna and and Prague (with perhaps Budapest too) as an Eastern European trip OR Paris, Venice, Rome and Florence. Likewise, Paris, Madrid, Seville and Granada. From experience of both Granada and Switzerland, I’d cut out Switzerland, nice as it is. If you want to visit the South of France then Nice is good and you could cross the border into Northern Italy and take in Milan too. However, the South of France, while beautiful, is basically an expensive seaside resort rather than a place full of culture and history.
Be aware that all the most popular cities in Italy, particularly, are full of tourists and queues in peak season. I adore Venice but only visit in January because it is a whiffy, wildly over-populated hell-hole in August. Florence isn’t a breeze either in August (the queues for the Uffizi have to be seen to be believed!) but there are other beautiful historic places in Tuscany with Siena being a particular favourite of mine.
I’d treat Europe as a place that can be revisited. Not somewhere that can be done in one single visit.
Post # 7
@Steampunkbride: OOh, I love Siena! I spent a month there a few years ago learning Italian. It’s much nicer and less touristy than Florence.
Otherwise good avice!
Post # 8
- Wedding: October 2013 - Vine Street Church
Berlin is spectacular — easily my favorite place in Europe and I would live there again if given the chance. I wasn’t too impressed with Paris (people were very rude to me the whole time I was there), but I did like the Riviera. Vienna’s kinda boring, but Salzburg is lovely. Switzerland is also amazing.
Post # 9
We’ve been to both Prague and Budapest. They’re very similar cities in many ways, but personally I preferred Budapest.
Istanbul is another one of my personal favourites (although everyone who travels there should be mindful that it’s an Islamic country and dress/behave accordingly).
Post # 10
@Cyri: Paris is one of my favorite places on earth. I spent a year there, and I still felt like I had things left to see (and eat!) I loved Florence, but it is a small city and can easily be seen in a couple days. I was in Florence for 6 days, and honestly, it was too much.
I think you should focus on one or two countries. You didn’t say how long you would be going for, but I’ll assume you have the usual two weeks. Chose a place or a few places that you always wanted to go to. The one place that you’d always regret missing if you died tomorrow, and go there. (Honestly, that is how I structured all of my vacations. Within budget, I always went to the place I wanted to go most first.) You’ll get the real flavor of the country if you focus your travels. The south of France is so different from the North. You could spend your whole vacation in France without feeling like you are missing out. The same is true of Italy.
You have your whole life to return to Europe. If you hop from city to city, you’ll spend the majority of your time travelling, and you won’t really get to experience any city in depth.
Another choice is to spend a week in the north of France, you can visit versailles, Paris, Normandy, ect. and then take the overnight train from Paris to Florence and visit parts of Northern Italy. Honestly, i wouldn’t do more than that. 🙂 Have fun on your trip!
Post # 11
@Cyri: how much time do you have?
Post # 12
YES. GO TO PARIS.
My husband and I went to Europe for the first time last summer. We went to Vienna, Rome, and Paris. Paris was by far my favorite and we’re already planning our next trip! It is seriously just magical. Vienna was also quite nice. The architecture was breathtaking, they had the BEST public transportation (super easy!) and great sweets! Also, the people in Vienna were SO incredibly nice.
Post # 13
@Cyri: ROMEEEE!!!! I went in June and it was great however be prepare to spend tons of money we were there for about a week and on the whole trip we probably spent like 6,000.
Post # 14
@Lollybags: We love bits and pieces of everything so it’s hard to choose what to cut! And the distance between cities makes it very difficult to narrow down. The Amalfi coast looks AH-MAZING
@misstwinkle: Switzerland is currently on the list!! We have down Interlaken and Lucerne. Please tell me where we should go to get the best out of our Swiss experience!! 🙂
@LaPetiote: We are DEFINITELY going to Paris!! Although a friend of mine who lives in Bordeaux tells me I should be going there instead?! Confusion! We will be going in April and have 4 days allocated for France.
@Steampunkbride: Thanks for the tips! I definitely appreciate the value of actually stopping to smell the roses in each country but it is sooooo tempting to do bits and pieces of everything as it’s not likely we’ll be back for perhaps 10 years 🙁
@thejucheidea: Thanks, I have heard from a lot of people that Berlin is amazing. Tough choices!
@MaryKay14: I think we have to choose between Seville and Istanbul at the moment. How to choose?! (but what a nice problem to have :-))
@lawyerchick13: We are lucky enough to have 5 weeks in Europe. We are pretty ambitious with our plans because there is so much we don’t want to miss out on, but we are trying to maximise our stays in each country to limit travel time
@WestCoastV: 5 wonderful weeks!
@SunflowerGarden: Awww we are planning to go to all of those except Vienna. People told me to cut Austria?! I can’t wait for Paris 🙂
@eecuadrado: LOL our bank accounts are depleting already!
Post # 15
I have only been to Madrid, Barcelona and Rome (plus surronding areas). We took one trip for each city and spent about 5 days in each area and we missed a lot of things but packed a lot in. Make sure you give yourself at least 2 nights in each place to make sure you get thru you’re must see list. If you are going during high season be prepared to wait in long lines.
If you go to Spain I highly recommend going to Segovia. It can be done in a day maybe 2 if you want to slow down, but its a wonderfully beautiful old roman town. Its about 2 hours outside of Madrid. Barcelona is great because of the ecclectic-ness but is very very touristy (in comparison to Madrid). Sitges is a poppin’ becah town slightly south that is a good time.
I feel like one has to go to Rome at some point in one’s life. We just got back last week and let me tell you you won’t run out of things to see. I’m not one for religion but the capuchin friar’s crypt on the via veneto and the vatican are quite impressive. I did find the food to be a bit redundant, though delicious.
Don’t try to cram too much in. You will miss too much. Pace yourself and realize you can always go back =)
ETA: I just read you will be there for 5 weeks. Holy cow. Thats a lot of time to see a whole lot. JUst dont burn out
Post # 16
@Cyri: haha I believe it but remember its allll worth it. And if you don’t have kids already its best to do it now for the babies come!