I and my wife are based in England and need help in planning our trip to Europe. we'd like to cover as many countries as possible. Really waiting to see France, Italy, Germany and Switzerland in particular.
I have browsed the web and I am really confused now! But guess I've found the right place now. Found loads of package tours but being packed in to a bus/ coach isnt quite our idea of a vacation. But the idea of train journeys does excite us. Both of us are nature lovers and are looking forward to seeing some of the greatest spots on the earth.
I am not quite sure where to start and how to get around. Any help would be much appreciated!! What would be the most enjoyable mode of transport? Also what kind of budget should i be looking at?
Thanks in advance!!
10 days? That's just about enough time for 2 main cities (e.g. Paris and Rome), and definitely not 4 countries. For France, Italy and Germany, 10 days is not even enough to explore 1 of them, least to say all 3. And if you want to see natural sites, you'll have to be away from main cities into the countryside.
Train travel is very easy and convenient around western Europe and tickets can usually be booked up to 3 months ahead of travel date. For France, you may check the schedule from Voyages SNCF or TGV Europe. For Germany, use Bahn.de website. Italian train operator is called Trenitalia. Depending on the type of train taken, the distance travelled, availability of online special prices, it's quite hard to estimate the cost for rail travel.
Is there anything specific that you must not miss?
Besides, since you're based in England, quite often you can travel to major cities as a weekend getaway. With budget airlines offering cheap flights, you can go away more regularly than just wait until you get a period of holiday time.
Thanks for the super quick response!
Yes being based in England I can plan weekends at the major cities. Trouble is i am not a British citizen so need a schegen visa. So was hoping to cover as many places as possible. I'd be happy if we can cover highlights in these countries. I got the idea (of covering all places within 10days) in the first place looking at some packages on the net which seemed to cover a lot more places within 2 weeks. I did discount quite a few places given that we may not have a ready transport and the guided tours.
Obviously, if the experts think it surely isnt possible I'll go by your words! I would surely want to cover some highlights in Paris and Switzerland. Would that be possible?
Get your point re train tickets. But could you indicate what the average tariff would be at budget hotels? We have Premier Inn/ Travelodge etc in the UK - are there any equivalents that any one can suggest?
Ah ok, sorry for assuming you're a British/EU citizen therefore able to travel freely.
Re the tours: chances are, had you read the minute details, you'll probably notice things like, in Paris, you'll see Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees, Louvre and Notre Dame, but then the time allocated is something like 4 hours in total. Effectively you'll end up "seeing" the sights alright, but there's no time to actually visit them properly. (I'm just drawing an example of a tour that my friend was thinking of doing a while back, which sounded too good to be true, and of course it was too good to be true.)
(I'm not expert per se, but I'm sharing basic stuff that I know, and hope they'll be useful)
If you want to do Paris and one or two cities in Switzerland, that's doable at a comfortable pace. If you're still wistfully thinking of doing all the countries you want, I guess you can do it too. Just that as you are supertight on time, you need to be very selective and you could see only a small part of the countries that you've listed (i.e. a city per country) and they're cities close-ish to borders from one to another. So, no Rome, no Berlin, etc, you get the gist. One itinerary example:
Paris (3 days) - overnight train to Venice - Venice (2 days) - overnight train to Munich - Munich (2.5 days) - 4 hours fast train to Zurich - Zurich (2 days)
This is really very much at a push, and the overnight train should save some time but you could end up quite tired if you're not well-rested, especially at rushing around to see the sights etc at the same time. Luckily the trains for Paris-Venice and Venice-Munich are direct, so there's no changing of train in the middle of the night somewhere etc.
On accommodation, a reasonable allocation would be between €70 to €100 per night for double occupancy for budget sleeps that are relatively central or at least easily accessible with public transport. As for hotel chain recommendation (not something I'm very familiar with, as I often stay with friends when I travel), have a look at Accor Hotel group maybe? As far as I know, they're a big hotel group that manage the brands of Formule 1, Accor, Etap, Sofitel, Adagio and Ibis. Otherwise, Travellerspoint also have accommodation search engine so you could have a look at that too (link on the left hand side menu of this page, just under the TP's logo).
Ps: I'm not entirely sure if the chain would be the best price places, and also be careful and check the location properly. You don't want to end up in the suburb areas and then have trouble to get in/out of the city. E.g. Formule 1 hotels in Paris tend to be at the suburbs, and while they're also normally the ones with the cheapest rates, by the time you compound in the travelling costs and time loss, it could well be better to pay €10-€20 more to stay somewhere more central and within Paris proper.
Thanks - you are a saviour!
Could you suggest any more routes like the one you've mentioned? I've now understood that covering all these countries in 10 days is just wishful thinking! Also take your point that we may just end up "seeing" the sites rather than enjoy them. Covering 3-4 major cities sounds more like a plan. In Switzerland specifically friends have suggested that I must try and visit these places INTERLAKEN - MOUNT TITLIS - LUCERNE - ZURICH - RHINE FALLS. I know visiting all of them may not be possible but I'm trying to get the best possible route so that I can most (if not all) of these places. Could you guide me on a couple of other routes before I can make a decision. Would be much appreciated!
Thanks your help on the accomodation. Will go through the accomodation search here.
Well, my student budget hasn't quite allow me to travel Switzerland so far, so I'm afraid you'll have to wait for someone else in the forum who's more familiar with it to share their knowledge and give you some guides on planning the route.
But looking quickly in Google Maps, your list of location to go in Switzerland makes geographical sense, that they're in the right route to go so you're not zig-zagging the country or anything. And there are trains from Paris to Interlaken via Bern, so that would be straight forward for the leg of the journey.
I've read through the exchange, and given the constraints and circumstances, I agree with anything lil_lil advised.
The only additional advice I can give you - some countries are much more diverse that others. If you travel through Italy for example, Rome, Milano and Palermo are so different, they may as well be in three different countries. A town in Switzerland, on the other hand, is a town in Switzerland. At least it was my impression.