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3 Weeks in Europe for the first time - Advice?

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1. Posted by Mdonovan0727 (First Time Poster 1 posts) 9w

Hello!

My boyfriend and I are both in our early 20s and are planning a three week trip to Europe this coming April. We are just beginning to plan our itinerary. I've been reading blogs and tips, but am really not sure where to begin (there's so much information out there!) We would prefer to avoid overly-crowded tourist areas while still getting a feel for history and seeing beautiful sights. Both of us enjoy "adventure" type destinations - we have been to central and South America many times to canoe, zip line, hike, try exotic foods, etc... I know this will be a very different trip, but would love to still fit in some active locations. We've yet to determine our budget, starting location, ending location or any specifics so are VERY open to suggestions.

That being said, what are some absolutely must-see destinations? Good places for food, unique landscapes, history, adventures, nightlife? Any advice is very appreciated.

Cheers!

2. Posted by WomBatt (Full Member 132 posts) 8w

There is no indication where you are from. More pertinent, where you can (and if money is a concern) fly to and from.
Three weeks will not give you Europe but can give a taste of three countries close together

3. Posted by Fatim (Budding Member 15 posts) 8w

I suggest you the Pyrenees or the alps, amazing places for hiking, adventure sports and this kind of stuff. It would also allow you to visit Spain and France on one hand, or Germany, Switzerland, Italy and aslo France on the other

4. Posted by OldPro (Respected Member 215 posts) 8w

Here is my best advise. Forget Europe!

What I mean is, change your thinking from ALL of Europe to one or two specific areas within Europe. Many people write of visiting 'Europe' as if it were one country. Obviously, it isn't and no one can 'see Europe' in a few weeks.

Given your outdoor interests, I would suggest picking one country like France or Italy or Switzerland and then picking one area within that country like the Alps. For example, look at Switzerland. You will not find anywhere better to hike; try tandem hang gliding or paragliding; river rafting; canyoneering; mountain bicycling. Interspersed with visits to cities like Geneva, Bern, Lucerne and smaller towns like Zermatt or Ascona to discover more of the culture and diversity of this one small country.

Wherever you choose, look for quality, not quantity. A lot of people talk about wanting to 'see as much as possible'. But they confuse the word 'much' with the word 'many' and they are not synonymous. The way to see/do as much as possible is to spend as much time IN places as possible and not in BETWEEN places. In travel as in many things, less is more.

Have a look at these to see what I am talking about.
http://www.myswitzerland.com/en-ca/top-hikes.html

http://www.paragliding-interlaken.ch/en/

http://www.swissriveradventures.ch/Rafting-Vorderrhein.28.0.html?&L=1

https://www.outdoor-interlaken.ch/en/tours/49/canyoning-interlaken?gclid=COX-6Ofvk84CFYIDaQodFIcI7Q

http://www.ridebig.com/trip_switzerland_alpenrock.php

https://www.google.ca/search?q=lake+geneva&biw=1366&bih=651&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjk7qCq8JPOAhWm1IMKHeppB9gQsAQIMw

https://www.google.ca/search?q=lake+geneva&biw=1366&bih=651&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjk7qCq8JPOAhWm1IMKHeppB9gQsAQIMw#tbm=isch&q=bern+

https://www.google.ca/search?q=lake+geneva&biw=1366&bih=651&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjk7qCq8JPOAhWm1IMKHeppB9gQsAQIMw#tbm=isch&q=Lucerne

https://www.google.ca/search?q=lake+geneva&biw=1366&bih=651&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjk7qCq8JPOAhWm1IMKHeppB9gQsAQIMw#tbm=isch&q=Zermatt

https://www.google.ca/search?q=lake+geneva&biw=1366&bih=651&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjk7qCq8JPOAhWm1IMKHeppB9gQsAQIMw#tbm=isch&q=ascona

I'm never impressed by people who can list 10 cities or countries they visited in 2 weeks. I know they saw very little of anything. I'm much more impressed by people who can tell me all about what they saw and did in a much smaller area in depth.

5. Posted by Andyf (Travel Guru 640 posts) 8w

Most of the "wow" outdoors destinations in Europe are expensive. For example the Alps or Norway. Are you concerned with budget? If so Scotland would be my pick for outdoors.

After that it's a question of what else you want to see and do. Eastern Europe is much cheaper, most of the capital cities are interesting and pretty but it does lack the big hits like Rome or Venice, which are very expensive.

6. Posted by tycoonholidays (First Time Poster 1 posts) 8w

HI there,

In order to provide you complete information would suggest you to decide the budget and also mention your departure city. However Europe is fantastic destination specially for honeymooners & couples. Depending upon your budget you can combine 3 to 4 countries to get a feel and experience of Europe.

You may consider Switzerland, France & Italy or Switzerland, Spain & italy or Portugal, Spain & Austria.

Thanks & Regards
-snip-

Moderator comment: please see Forum Rules

[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. Link to Forum Rules added. ]

7. Posted by mikevs (Budding Member 4 posts) 8w

Honeslty, I did this a year ago and I wish I would have asked the same question you are now. I would say...
Switzerland was my absolute favorite as far as beauty and majestic scenery goes. Gimmelwald is a incredible little mountain town in the alps I highly recommend as well. Every second of my time there was incredible.

Other Favorites:

- Munich, Germany
- London
- Northern Italy (didn't enjoy the south too much)
- Amsterdam
- Edinburgh
- Budapest
- Prague

8. Posted by OldPro (Respected Member 215 posts) 8w

Quoting Andyf

Most of the "wow" outdoors destinations in Europe are expensive. For example the Alps or Norway. Are you concerned with budget? If so Scotland would be my pick for outdoors.

After that it's a question of what else you want to see and do. Eastern Europe is much cheaper, most of the capital cities are interesting and pretty but it does lack the big hits like Rome or Venice, which are very expensive.

I always wonder how anyone knows what someone else considers 'expensive'. I also get a bit annoyed by the continual misconception that Switzerland costs a lot more than other countries in Europe. In this case, a specific example of comparing Switzerland to Scotland which are two countries I happen to personally be VERY familiar with from a visitor's viewpoint. I do NOT consider Switzerland more expensive for a tourist than Scotland is at all. I consider them comparable in terms of MY budget restraints.

If you look at a site that lists tourist costs such as this one: http://www.budgetyourtrip.com/countrylist.php , what you will find is that the average tourist cost per day for the UK is $150 USD and for Switzerland it is $175 USD. I consider those comparable and when I then look at the far more important factors of what I am interested in seeing and doing, Switzerland wins hands down.

For a 3 week trip that the OP is considering, a difference of (20x$25=) $500 USD does not make one country significantly more expensive than the other to me. As it happens, my wife and I have a trip planned to Switzerland for this September. It's a short visit to a favourite area (Davos-Klosters) to do some hiking. For flights and 10 nights at a boutique hotel (21 rooms) we like, the total cost is $5000 CAD ($4000 USD). Of that 5k, 3k is the hotel cost. But that $3k includes, 10 nights in a superior room; 10 three course dinners, 10 breakfasts, 10 packed lunches (if desired) for our hiking days; unlimited travel on all train, bus, funicular, cable cars and chair lifts in the area. The only real additional cost is a return rail ticket from Zurich airport. Everything else we need is covered in that $3k.

Now someone can say, well a hotel is $200 a night and a meal is $50 per person and a cable car ride is $30, etc. etc. and come up with a high number indeed but that is someone who does not know how to be a smart tourist in Switzerland. Maybe that's the difference, the tourist who knows vs. the tourist who doesn't know.

We recently did a 2 week trip to Scotland to do some hiking of the Fife Coastal Path. For 14 days we spent just under $10k. Obviously, our cost per day was higher for Scotland, so the question becomes how come? Well first, public transit in Switzerland is beyond compare and the trains, buses, ferries, cable cars, funiculars etc. will get you absolutely everywhere. In Scotland we needed to rent a car. We stayed partly in a B&B and partly in a quality hotel. Neither offered a package with dinner and packed lunches. Breakfast yes, but that's it. So all lunches and dinners had to be paid for separately. Flight costs were about the same as for Switzerland. So the difference was in the transportation and meals primarily and that pushed our cost per day up over the cost of our upcoming Switzerland trip where we will enjoy transportation and meals included once we reach our destination.

My point is that it is simply not correct to say one country is more expensive for a tourist than another. It all depends on where, when, what and how well you do at finding the smartest answer to do what you want to do.

Here is the hotel in Switzerland and if you look at the 'Wanderlust' package you will see what is included. You could stay for a week in a standard room with everything I have mentioned as included for $1302 USD for two people. Tell me that is 'expensive'. http://bellevuewiesen.com/

9. Posted by Borisborough (Respected Member 429 posts) 8w

If we're talking about a "smart tourist", http://www.budgetyourtrip.com/countrylist.php is a bit of a fairy story and hardly worth paying any attention to. For the UK it states that water is GBP2 even though it then goes on to say that the local tap water is safe to drink (as it is - why buy bottled water?) and it also suggests that tipping should be 10-20%?!! It's the United Kingdom not the United States of Britain - people in the UK very rarely tip and then only for exceptional service. There's a minimum wage which includes all jobs, including hotel, waiting and bar staff.

There are other quaint little idiosyncrasies about the website too: British curries often include "roast beef" and have coconut added for flavour. And a British meal includes a basic meat and two boiled vegetables and this is common for most British families. And in New Zealand it's fish and chips and pavlova. Comical!

And the website also does actually suggest which countries are "expensive".

10. Posted by OldPro (Respected Member 215 posts) 8w

What was the point you thought you were making with your comments Borisborough?

Did you write anything that contradicted the fact that it is entirely possible to find a relatively inexpensive way to visit Switzerland at a cost comparable to the UK? I think not. Did you link a site that shows that the numbers given on the linked site, for the UK and Switzerland, are far different for the average tourist? I think not. You added NOTHING to the issue of what is affordable or comparable.

If you want to contest what I have written, then why not give us YOUR example of how you would get 7 nights accommodation in a 3 star hotel with all meals and transportation in the area provided, for less than $1300 USD for 2 people. How about in say the Scottish Highlands or in the Black Mountains of Wales. Those, while no where near as spectacular as the Alps, would be the closest you could get to a comparable in the UK I would say.

So let's see what you can come up with. One week; 3 star; all meals; at least bus transportation around the area; for 2 people and under $1300 USD. In the UK you will find it where?

I'd also like to see Andyf's REAL example of why he would suggest Scotland over Switzerland based on budget to justify the comment, "Most of the "wow" outdoors destinations in Europe are expensive. For example the Alps or Norway. Are you concerned with budget? If so Scotland would be my pick for outdoors."

Otherwise, all I read are a couple of people who don't know what is actually available in the countries in question. Someone with an opinion but no facts to back it up.