My friend and I will be going on a 30 day trip across Spain, Italy, Greece and Egypt. We are both 18 years of age and we will be leaving for the month of May, 2010. We have each budgeted around 3000 euros for the trip, including airfare to and from Canada.
The cities we plan on visiting include Barcelona, Venice, Rome, Naples, Athens, Corinth, Delphi, Meteora, Alexandria, and Cairo. We are both very into the ancient Roman civilization, especially the late Republic. The trip will be primarily for history, but we plan on partying as much as we can if we can make it fit the budget.
Now, here lies the problem: There is still room to visit another city, perhaps another country. We are looking for some recommendations on where to visit, what to see, and what to do, given our interests. We are obviously going to be spending a lot of time in Rome, as Roman history is fantastic.
Also, as far as transportation goes, we are planning to use the train until we take a ferry to Greece, and then perhaps take a ferry to Egypt, if this is possible. What would you guys recommend? We are still in the early stages of planning this trip, but we want it to be the trip of a lifetime. Any tips, places to see, ways to travel, specific ferry routes and anything else are very welcome.
30 day trip across Spain, Italy, Greece and Egypt.
That schedule is nuts.
Highlights of Italy: Florence, Rome, Venice in a real rush 10 days, plus 2 days travelling time. 14 days + 2 days travelling time would be better.
Greece: Just to see the highlights you'll need approx 2-3 weeks.
Egypt: If I was going to Egypt I would plan on having at least 3 weeks there. Cairo alone needs about a week, and if you are interested in Roman history you'll need to spend around 4 days in Alexandria. And if you are flying all the way down to Egypt from Canada you might as well plan on about 10-14 days to see Luxor and Aswan too - who knows when you'll be able to come back?
Now, here lies the problem: There is still room to visit another city, perhaps another country.
No way. Forget about it. Instead I would cut out Barcelona and think very hard about going to Egypt at all.
Also, as far as transportation goes, we are planning to use the train until we take a ferry to Greece, and then perhaps take a ferry to Egypt,
Ferries and trains with that time schedule? Forget it, you'll have to fly. Train+ferry from Italy might be doable, but train from Barcelona to Italy and overland from Greece to Egypt would simply take too long.
As far as Roman and Greek antiques go, may I point your nose to Tunisia and Turkey instead of Egypt? And maybe Bath in the UK instead of Barcelona?
EDIT: One more thing, lets not forget that many Roman antiques are stored in the big museums in Europe. British museum in London, Roman-Germanic museum in Cologne, Pergamon museum in Berlin, ...
[ Edit: Edited on 16-Jul-2009, at 02:13 by t_maia ]
Places in Turkey that would be interesting to you and easy to reach from Greece:
For places to see in Tunisia go to http://looklex.com/tunisia/index.htm - I would especially point out El Jem and the museums in Monastir, Sousse and Tunis. You can easily get to Tunis by taking the ferry from Sicily.
Wow, thank you so much for all of the advice. I clearly need to rethink things.
I am now strongly considering cutting out Barcelona, as it is a little bit out of the way. I have already seen Florence, so I need not revisit.
So here is what I am thinking: If I start in Venice, spend a few days there, then take the train to Rome. Spend 7 days in Rome, then train to Naples, and spend 3 days there checking out the city and Pompeii. Then, take the train to (?)* and ferry to Greece. I can spend about 5 days in Greece. If I only have 5 days in Greece, where would you suggest that I visit, given my interests? I know I can't see everything, but I would like to visit both Athens and Corinth, maybe one or two other spots. Is a ferry the best way to travel between cities and from (?)* (although obviously not between Athens and Corinth)?.
Then, I would like to spend 2 days in both Crete and Cyprus. From Cyprus, I will have about 5 days left. I was thinking Alexandria would be really awesome, but after reading about Ephesus, I think it might be more suited to our interests. The thing is, I would like to do both. Would it be too much hassle to go from Crete to Ephesus, then Ephesus to Cyprus, then Cyprus to Alexandria, then Alexandria to Cairo? I'm not sure how they are with customs and currencies in those countries. So, say with 12 days left, I went to Crete then Ephesus then Cyprus then Alexandria then Cairo. How many days should I spend in each? Are these ferry routes possible?
Also, which city should I ferry from in Italy? I'm thinking the smartest route might be from Brindisi to Corinth, but I am curious to hear what you have to say.
Thank you very much for taking the time to help me.
EDIT: After thinking further, I think I will skip Egypt like you recommended. There is too much to see in such a short time. I may go to Tunisia, however... I need to do some reading. I'll update this thread over the weekend.
[ Edit: Edited on 16-Jul-2009, at 19:26 by Vespasian ]
I cannot help you much with Greece (never been there), but I would like to point out one very important thing:
Ferries are a very very slow method of travelling. Everytime you hop on a ferry (change the island) you pretty much loose a travel day (unless you are taking an overnight ferry). So it doesn't make much sense to go to an island for only 2 days or plan on a lot of island hopping in this area if you don't have the time and money to do it.
And while there is a ferry from Cyprus to Alexandria this summer it is not guaranteed that it will be running in 2010. It most definitely won't be cheap. If you plan to go to Egypt I recommend that you fly from Istanbul to Cairo.
If you plan on going Italy-Greece-Med islands-Turkey-Egypt go for around 2-3 months. Italy 2 weeks (Venice 2 days, Naples 5 days, Rome 7 days), 1 day travelling to a place in Greece (Brindisi or Patras IIRC), 3 weeks around Greece and the other islands in the Med, 10 days in Western Turkey (Ephesus, Miletus, Istanbul), flying to Cairo, 3 weeks around Egypt.
Visa's/custom's won't be a big problem in the area with a US passport. For both Turkey and Egypt you can get visa at the border. Only potential problem area would be Northern Cyprus (the part of Cyprus that is under Turkish rule).
Despite the animosity between the two countries Turkey and Greece are easily combined when travelling in the area. See www.turkeytravelplanner.com for transport options between Greece and Turkey.
Most people enter Turkey via Rhodos or they take the train from Thessaloniki. I am not sure about the transport situation from Cyprus, I only know there is a ferry from Northen Cyprus but I don't know how that works visa-wise. If you want to see Ephesus and plan to fly out of Istanbul I would recommend entering via Rhodos.
Okay, things are finally starting to piece together for me. First things first, I only have 1 month. So, I'm going to spend 2 weeks in Italy, then visit a city or two in Greece for 5 days. I'll give myself a travel day to get to Greece, which leaves me with 12 days. I will spend one day getting to Crete, and 2 days in Crete, then 1 day getting to Cyprus, and 2 days in Cyprus. Then I will spend one day getting to Izmir, then spend 1 day in Izmir, 2 days in Ephesus and 1 day in Bergama. I will fly out of Izmir. I'm going to skip Istanbul because it does not interest me much.
Thank you for helping me make this trip more realistic. Turkey seems like an awesome place to visit, and I'm looking forward to it.
The only thing I have left to decide is where to go in Greece. I'm thinking Athens and Corinth, and I need to investigate Rhodes a little bit more. If anybody has any recommendations or advice on this topic, it is very much welcome.
If this schedule still has major flaws, please let me know. Thanks again!
Edit: Cyprus is looking like it's quite out of the way, and ferries are expensive..
Edit 2: Okay, I'm going to skip Cyprus, and now I'm trying to figure out how to get to Izmir from Crete.
[ Edit: Edited on 19-Jul-2009, at 12:34 by Vespasian ]
I will fly out of Izmir.
Flying out of Izmir won't work very well because Izmir is only a small local airport catering mainly to the charter crowds. Lot's of flights to Europe, but no intercontinental flights. If you are flying out of Izmir to Canada it will mean either:
1) flying from Izmir to Istanbul and changing planes in Istanbul and a second time in Canada or the USA, paying a premium for the flight ticket. (That is unless you can manage to book the flight from Izmir to Istanbul seperately with THY or a local airline while you are already in Turkey.)
or 2) taking a seperate charter flight to Europe (say London, Frankfurt or Dublin) and then flying from there to Canada.
The second option should be the cheaper of the two. But for practical reasons I would fly out of Istanbul. You should buy your flight ticket Canada-Rome with a change in either New York, a big Canadian hub, London, Frankfurt or Paris and the return flight Istanbul-Canada again changing in said hub.
BTW, don't knock down Istanbul - it is an amazing city that will pleasantly surprise you when you are there. Enough antiques from the Byzantine era to keep you happy for 2-3 days. Try to cram it in if you can.
Turkey will also be far more budget friendly than Greece - currently prices are about 20-30% cheaper.
[ Edit: Edited on 19-Jul-2009, at 12:41 by t_maia ]
Given what you have said, I think it may be wise to skip Cyprus.
I think that perhaps if I skip Cyprus, I can see Istanbul, and then flying home will be much easier.
My biggest dilemma right now is finding an cost and time efficient way to Izmir from Greece, most likely from Crete, since I now hope to go Corinth-Athens-Crete-Izmir-Istanbul. Thoughts? I haven't found anything good yet.
You need to go either Athens-Thessaloniki-Istanbul or Athens-random island- Rhodos-Turkey.
There seem to be direct ferries once a week from Crete to Rhodos and a local airline flying Crete-Rhodos.
[ Edit: Edited on 19-Jul-2009, at 12:49 by t_maia ]
Which sucks, especially since everything seems to go to Istanbul and it would be much easier to finish in Istanbul. It's only a 9 hr bus ride from Istanbul to Izmir, and it only costs like 10 euros. I guess I'll take the train then!
Edit 2: Never mind... If there was a reliable way to get from Crete to Rhodes, it would be perfect. I'll look into it.
[ Edit: Edited on 19-Jul-2009, at 12:58 by Vespasian ]