Skip Navigation

First time Europe questions

Travel Forums Europe First time Europe questions

1. Posted by LemonMunch (First Time Poster 1 posts) 7y

I'm from Western Canada, and in the year between high school and university I want to do a trip around europe. Based on my research and what seems like a general online consensus, I've decided to get a eurail 15 days of travel in 2 months youth flexi pass, and hit (in order):

Amsterdam
Berlin
Prague
Vienna
Budapest
Istanbul (hoping eurail does istanbul by that time)
Athens
Venice
Florence
Rome
Bern
Barcelona
Paris
London
Brussels
back to Amsterdam

1. do these sound like good destinations? should I see Interlaken instead of Bern? Munich instead of Berlin? A different greek destination? a different Ntherlands destination? Is Lisbon any good?

2. Would it be worth it to do a short round trip flight from Istanbul to Cairo to see a bit of Africa for say, 3-4 days? how much would that cost?

3. I can start at really any of the places listed above. which one would have the cheapest fares from Calgary? Where should I buy tickets?

4. How much would food cost daily if I did markets and grocery stores eating sandwhiches and peanut butter?

Thanks

2. Posted by bluewaav (Inactive 627 posts) 7y

Hey fellow Calgarian!

Wow, so you want to do all that in two months . . . That's a lot! Just to caution you, your head might be spinning In other words, you might need a vacation from your vacation! Oh, and you have 16 train journey's listed there, instead of 15, which your eurrail won't cover.

Well, I can help you will some of it.

3. I can start at really any of the places listed above. which one would have the cheapest fares from Calgary?

The cheapest place to fly into Europe out of Calgary is always London. Stansted is a bad London airport to fly into, though, because it isn't connected to the public transportation system there, so that means an expensive taxi fare into the city. Try to fly into Heathrow or another airport. However, Amsterdam isn't the worst place to fly into, either, so you could possibly do that if you don't want to see London/England at all, and you would probably save the difference in overland travel costs. The other option would be to take one of the myriad of low cost airlines like ryanair, easyjet, wizzair, etc. (also check out skyscanner.net) to Amsterdam for euros (be careful of being dinged for "extras" though- they are no frills for a reason- if you do that). Low cost airlines in Europe are similar to WestJet, but even more scaled down, if you can imagine.

Where should I buy tickets?

Online is the best way for the cheapest tickets. Also, keep an eye in the Calgary Herald. Good one way flights are sometimes advertised (You would pay double for return). It works like this: companies buy tickets from the airlines in bulk, sometimes because they can't sell enough seats, and sell them wholesale. So then you get reduced tickets. You gotta be on top of this though. They go quickly. There are many websites that sell cheap tickets, as well. Travelocity, expedia, cheaptickets, orbitz, etc. Sometimes you get a break, though, and you can find cheap airline tickets on the airline's website: seat sales. The third option is via a travel agent. This can be more expensive though, because you're paying a commission. However, sometimes this is less of a nightmare compared to buying through other veins. In the past, I've used both Flight Centre and TravelCUTS (for students, mainly) with success.

One thing that I must strongly advise you of is this: get travel insurance! Get it right away! Do not delay! Last summer, I had an entire trip planned when I started having stomach pains. Long story short, I ended up cancelling my trip to have surgery. And I had procrastinated buying trip interruption insurance. Because of it, all I got in return was a wimpy $500 voucher from United. Ouch! RBC Insurance and the AMA (if you're a member) are both really good places to buy insurance in Calgary.

4. How much would food cost daily if I did markets and grocery stores eating sandwhiches and peanut butter?

In total, it is possible to travel in Europe on 50 EUROS per day for everything as long as you have a eurrail pass. You'll manage that if you are eating out of supermarkets, etc. during your trip. It is a good idea, though, to have a contingency fund for just in case, though, or if you want to splurg a bit and go see a ballet or something.

Well, I hope that I helped. Have a fun trip!

Steph ;)

3. Posted by citybell (Full Member 419 posts) 7y

Going by the places you intend to visit, you can spend only 4 days in each place ..15x4=60days. !!! I think you need to revise or cut short some of the places. For some places, 4days is too short.

All the places that you have mentioned are good and worth seeing..Except Bern..Instead you can visit Zurich or interlaken in my opinion. Keep Berlin as it has lots to offer.and similarly Athens. Heard Lisbon is very good though never been there.
To find cheapest airticket, suggest you to check both airlines websites and travel agents in your city. Let your destination(arrival point in europe) be a busy hub like London or Paris where many flights fly-in so that you can get tickets at a cheaper price.

I think for food, you can keep 25-30 euros per day which should be sufficient.

All the best AND HAPPY TRAVELS.

4. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 7y

so that means an expensive taxi fare into the city

Sorry, no - there is a service called easybus, fares from Stansted into the city start at 2 GBP. Return fare is 12 GBP max.
http://www.easybus.co.uk/

4. How much would food cost daily if I did markets and grocery stores eating sandwhiches and peanut butter?

At scrap-bottom with a mega-tight budget plan on 5 EUR per day for food. This is very tight though. But many people in Western Europe need to live on such a meagre budget and they manage to survive. They do it by never ever eating out (not even at fast food chains), never buying anything from vending machines and street vendors (not even soda and icecream) and sticking to the cheapest stores. They cook everything themselves and often their diet consists of potatoes, rice and pasta with frozen veggie mixes and sandwiches.

A more realistic budget for food would be something like 10-15 EUR per day. At this amount of money you could pick up some hot food and snacks from street vendors occassionally and not worry too much about your food budget. You could even afford to go into a real sit-down restaurant once or twice if you are very careful with your money otherwise.

If you are going to eat what is available roadside only (bakery, cafe, cheap restaurants, fast food) you should budget around 20-30 EUR for food.

Note that you should also plan on 15-30 EUR per day on a hostel bed. So with the Eurail pass paid for you should have around 35 EUR per day just so that you do not have to sleep on the sidewalk and beg for food. With 50 EUR per day and the Eurail pass paid for you will be relatively comfortable - able to pay some entrance fees and afford some tickets for public transport in the cities as well as be able to stay in clean hostels and not go hungry. Plan on that budget.

I've decided to get a eurail 15 days of travel in 2 months youth flexi pass, and hit (in order):

Amsterdam
Berlin
Prague
Vienna
Budapest
Istanbul (hoping eurail does istanbul by that time)
Athens
Venice
Florence
Rome
Bern
Barcelona
Paris
London
Brussels
back to Amsterdam

I would skip Barcelona. It is a great city, but the travelling time from Switzerland and back to Paris is prohibitive unless you fly. Similar for Istanbul.

I would also throw in some cheap flights. I suggest you look at flights Germany-Istanbul, Germany-Barcelona and Italy-Barcelona as well as Germany-Thessaloniki if you are determined to see Istanbul or Barcelona. www.skyscanner.net can help.

Consider reversing the order of some cities. I would go Athens-ferry to Italy-Rome-Florence-Venice-Switzerland, this makes far more sense in terms of travelling time and costs. (You have to pay for the ferry from Greece to Italy, thus it makes the most sense money- and time-wise to take the shortest connection.)

Bern - nice city, but many people also go to Interlaken, so consider this city too. Also look at the surcharges you have to pay for certain trains in Switzerland, they can be quite expensive. Plus if you are on a tight budget consider skipping Switzerland altogether, it is very expensive there overall. IIRC there is a direct night train from Italy to Paris.

London - if you go Paris-London-Brussels note that you have to pay a steep surcharge for using the Eurostar train. Look at flying in and out of London from Calgary as bluewaav suggested and then fly London-Berlin, travel around Europe and then use the Eurostar train only once from either Paris or Brussels.

2. Would it be worth it to do a short round trip flight from Istanbul to Cairo to see a bit of Africa for say, 3-4 days? how much would that cost?

Very firm no.

If you are determined to go to Egypt I would plan on at least 2 weeks for this country. And instead of flying Istanbul-Cairo I would grab a cheap last-minute charter flight from Germany, the Netherlands or the UK. Istanbul-Cairo flights go for 300+ EUR return while flights from Germany to Egypt can be had for 150-250 EUR return if you are lucky.

If you absolutely want to see Northern Africa I can suggest that you fly into London or Frankfurt from Canada and end your Eurail trip in Southern Spain. You could then travel down south to Morocco by ferry and grab a cheap flight back to the UK or Germany. Again www.skyscanner.net can help you find budget flights from Morocco to the UK and Germany.

[ Edit: Edited on 22-Oct-2009, at 14:52 by t_maia ]

5. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 7y

One more thought: If you take a bunch of budget flights it can make sense to get the 10 days within 2 months pass, even if it means that you have to pay once or twice for taking the train. It is all about when to use the pass and when to pay for the ticket.

For example when you ride the train from Berlin to Potsdam and back to see the castle Sancoussi you can either use a pass day or pay for a day ticket Berlin ABC. The Berlin ABC ticket is just over 6 EUR, but a pass day on the 15 days within 2 months Global Eurail Youth pass is 35 EUR and 40 EUR on the 10-day pass. It thus makes sense to use the Eurail pass only for journeys which cost more than that.

Munich instead of Berlin?

Berlin! Munich is worth seeing, but Berlin has the hipper vibe. There are better night clubs and far more to see, especially if you got an interest in 20th century history. Berlin is also much cheaper than Munich, which is easily the most expensive city in Germany.

Finally I can also recommend that you visit some smaller cities. Seeing Paris is not the same as seeing France and Berlin is not Germany. If I was you I would reduce the number of countries and add a second, smaller city or village in each country. For Germany I can recommend Dresden, the Czech Republic Cesky Krumlov, Austria Salzburg and Hungary Györ. For Turkey and Greece I would do the classic circle via Ephesus and the Greek islands Kos or Rhodos and Santorini.

BTW, in 2 months you can reasonably cover 3-4 countries in Europe without placing the Brandenburg Gate in London and the Eiffel Tower in Rome. At this pace you'll have a chance to get a feel for the countries that you are visiting, learn something about their culture and history and remember it too. For the bigger cities like London and Rome you should plan on having at least 4-6 days.

[ Edit: Edited on 22-Oct-2009, at 16:42 by t_maia ]