We are a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids - ages 9 and 13 ). We are planning a vacation to western part of Europe next year. The duration can be 3 to 4 weeks.
We have friends and relatives in Belgium and Switzerland. I have following queries:
1. Based on the little research I had done, it seems that
a) Netherlands, France and Germany can be covered conveniently from Belgium
b) Austria and Italy can be covered from Switzerland.
Is the above assumption correct.?
2. What are the ideal number of days required for visiting the above ?
3. What should be the itinerary?
4. Are there any additional places (e.g. Denmark, UK) which can be included
5. What can be the approximate cost of the above (excluding airfares)
Thanks in advance for your valuable inputs
It's very hard to give a useful answer unless you tell us some more details :
- What type of things do you want to see?
(Museums, architecture, landscapes, famous landmarks, local culture, ...)
- How would you travel around? Self-drive, train?
- What sort of accommodation would you want? Five star hotels, down to backpacker hostels?
1. We would like to see landscapes, local culture and famous landmarks
2. Travel through train or any other mode of hired conveyance
3. Accommodation can be mid range to budget hotels or home stays
4. Preferred time of travel either May - June
I would go for at least 4 weeks. To be honest, to truly see the country you would need a month for each So the longer the better in my opinion
I have a perfect Itinerary for you...It may help you to plan your Europe Vacations and covered almost all interesting & top tourist destinations in western part of Europe.
You can start your Tour from London(UK) -> Amsterdam -> Brussels -> Paris -> Rome-> Florence -> Venice -> Venice -> Lucern & Interlaken -> Innsbruck -> Vienna -> Salzburg -> Munich -> Frankfurt. This Itinerary is for around 27 Days approx 4 Week...I believe 4 Weeks is more than enough to explore all famous destinations in Western Europe.
The above mention Itinerary will cost you around $3200 Per Person, that includes City Tour, Hop-on-hop off bus Tour, Accommodation etc. But it does not include airfare & Visa.
You can also make changes as per your interest...
Hope this suggestion would help you...
Myself I would try to do it by hiring a car. That would make luggage for a family with kids so much easier, when you are trying to see a variety of places. Cars are less easy for city centres though.
1. Yes (for me) driving from Belgium and Switzerland as bases is practical.
2. The previous suggestions of around four weeks make sense, but you could fill any amount of time seeing Europe.
3. You should sit down with Google maps and work out a route linking places that interest you. I'd say do this at the city and landmark level - talking about countries is too broad.
4. Yes Copenhagen is very worthwhile and not far from your other objectives. The UK maybe has too much to include unless you have a lot of extra time. It is also a different visa to the Schengen zone of mainland Europe.
5. Cost is very difficult to predict for you. But on the Internet you can add up costings for your own choice of hire car / transport, hotels, restaurant menus, attractions admission fees, to get an idea of your daily rate.
You'll save a lot of money if you can stay with relatives and friends in Belgium and Switzerland.
You're correct that The Netherlands, France and Germany can be covered conveniently from Belgium; and Austria and Italy from Switzerland.
Andyf makes some excellent suggestions. Take a look at a map, then make make a list of what you really want to see and do. Use the Travellerspoint mapping tool to construct an itinerary. Consider the distances involved and the time to get from place to place. You'll find many tools on the Internet that can help you do this. Consider flying into one city, and home from another, particularly if there's not much difference in the fare. That way you don't have to waste time to backtrack. Or, construct an itinerary that gets you back by another route. For example, Belgium to France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium.
Four weeks would be better than three. I don't think you have enough time to include the U.K. Denmark is expensive. The currency there is the krone. Belgium, France, Italy, Austria, Germany and The Netherlands use the euro. Switzerland has the franc.
Accommodations in big cities generally cost more than in smaller ones. Use a mix, including hostels (some have private rooms), guest houses (also known as pensions) and hotels. I like and use guest houses and small hotels. In some cities, such as Rome, there is affordable church-run lodging. Go online to check. During summer, some schools, such as universities, also make accommodations available. There are other options.
For train travel, consult this Web site: http://www.bahn.com/i/view/overseas/en/index.shtml
And this: http://www.seat61.com/.
Many European rail systems offer discounts, particularly if you book in advance. Go online to check. I have purchased discount tickets online with railroads in Germany and Austria.
If you don't want to rent a car, buses are an alternative, including this one: http://www.eurolines.com/en/
Consider day tours from certain cities, especially the ones where you have relatives and friends. For example, OBB, the Austrian railroad, offers day tours, including one from Vienna to Melk (you go by boat on the Danube to Melk; and return to Vienna by train, or vice versa).
There are lots of choices. You'll have a great time.
CharlesTheL, Laylasmith, AndyF, Berner256 - Thank you all for your valuable inputs and suggestions. Shall surely help me plan. Shall ask you for help again, if I get stuck up at some point.