My husband and I decided on a whim that we will be taking a trip to Europe over the Christmas/New Year season (We are from the US). We need some major advice because we're so overwhelmed with the choices. Here are the details: We will have 17-18 days for this trip. We are on somewhat of a budget and will be staying mostly at hostels and the occasional hotel, but are not adverse to camping. The dates and amount of time of this trip are not negotiable due to work reasons. Right now we've chosen four countries that we want to see and would like some suggestions on cities and sites. So here they are and the reasons we want to visit...
Greece: We want to see the architecture,ruins, experience the food, and maybe see one of the beaches if possible.
Italy: We would like to see the architecture and experience the food of course!
Germany: We would like to see some castles and drink some beer.
England:My husband insists on seeing a Liverpool football match...so I guess we know what we will be doing here.
Help! I feel so lost! Is this even possible to do in the limited amount of time we have, or should we rethink the countries?
4 countries in 18 days? Taking travelling time into account that works out to roughly 3 days per country. That is crazy, especially since it is normally recommended that you spent 2-3 weeks per country.
Since you are going during Christmas/New Years I would personally recommend that you hit Southern Germany and Northern Italy. Fly into Munich or Frankfurt then make your way down to Rome and fly home. (Or vice versa, if you are Catholic Rome at Christmas can be quite special.) 5-7 days for Germany, rest of the time for Italy. See the Christmas Markets, visit the castles and drink the beer in Germany, then drown yourself in art in Italy.
As for the wishes of the hubby: Italians and Germans play good football too. With a bit of luck Bayern München or one of the big Italian clubs might host Liverpool during the time your are there.
Amount of money you need: roughly 2500-3000 USD for the two of you plus cost of flight tickets (which is bound to be steep over Christmas).
BTW, hitting the beach in Greece during winter is not a good idea either. Just too freaking cold for it. Or do you consider 60 F water temperature and 50 F air temperature to be warm enough for a swim? While you might be able to see some of the ruins while in Greece, quite a number of tourist facilities will be closed, especially on the islands. Plus it is just not the same. Similar for camping - you'd freeze your bits off in Germany and Northern Italy if you tried camping with standard run-of-the-mill 3-season camping gear. That is, if you found a camping site that was open to customers. Most close from Oct 15th to April 15th and with good reason.
[ Edit: Edited on 17-Mar-2009, at 21:40 by t_maia ]
Germany at Christmas is a wonderful experience with all of the Christmas Markets, and just the total tradition of Christmas in Germany. The Markets in Frankfurt and Rotenberg are wonderful to see, and Rotenberg is just a great place to visit as the old town still has the town wall around it, and you are back in time a few hundred years. You also have Heidelberg castle in that area, and in Heidelberg there is a pub with about 100 beers on tap from all over Germany. I have not been to Munich for Christmas, but have heard it is wonderful as well. The Christmas Markets run from roughly the last week of November through Christmas.
As far as getting tickets for Liverpool, if this is a priority, then I would plan the trip around it. First, the schedule for next season will not be out until about August, I believe. At that point, you will have to decide if you are going to a home or away match. Home match tickets will probably be easier to get, and a friendlier environment as a Liverpool supporter. Either way, you will need to try and get your tickets as soon as they are available for the match you want to go see, and they will be somewhat difficult to get.
If you start in England and want to go to Liverpool first, you may want to look at flying in to Manchester.
Also something to take into account is how you will be getting around the countries you want to visit. And, how you are getting to or from England? If you are travelling by train, obviously, your itinerary will have to work around that.
You should have a great trip, but I would definitely set priorities and then make an itinerary that won’t leave you exhausted from your vacation.
Worst time of year for Southern Europe really, damp and grey on the whole. I would cut your losses and concentrate on Germany and Italy which are both fab to visit. There's enough architecture in just Rome and Florence to keep you going half the trip, but you'll also want to get Pompeii (which is amazing) and Venice. The food is mighty fine pretty much everywhere in Italy so you don't need to worry.
If you were to fly into Frankfurt you could do something like Heidelberg (good castle and beer)-->Black Forest-->Munich (lots of beer)-->somewhere in the alps-->Como or Lugano-->Verona-->Venice-->Florence-->Rome-->the Napoli area (to see Pompeii etc)-->back to Rome to fly out.
Thanks for all the advice. I thought it would be kind of crazy to hit all those countries, but we are clueless so I'm glad I asked. I will seriously consider cutting the trip to Germany and Italy only, you all have made some good suggestions. I'll have my husband read these posts as well (he might have to forgo his precious liverpool match). Anyway, thanks again!
Bavaria and Alps are pretty good by New Year's eve. Oh, those yammy ginger bread (lebkuchen... or something like this) in Nuremberg Christmas market. All that music and atmosphere. Very good choice for the trip. In Munchen don't miss famous Augustiner and HB beer houses- they're full with tourists but still very good. And definitely visit the Neuschwanstein castle- it's particularly beautiful in snow.
Remeber that you can see Liverpool not only playing at home, but even in the Fifa Cup, which is played in guest cities alla around Europe.
It's not impossible that it will be a match in Italy or Germany...
Well, we decided we are going to do just Italy and Germany thanks to everyone's sound advice. My husband is hoping for a Liverpool away match, if not he will be happy with any kind of football match as he is a little obsessed. I'm feeling very much relieved and a little less stressed with the great suggestions we've received on here. Now it's just down to planning the details. I'm sure I will be posting in the near future with all kinds of questions!